Thinking Out Loud

February 1, 2010

The Dream Flight Is Back

? Of the Week:

airline-seatsYou’re on a four-hour flight, up for conversation and you think the person in the next seat is also. You turn and find yourself sitting next to ________________!

What person in the “Christian world” would you most like to find yourself sitting next to for that flight? You can name up to three

  1. .
  2. .
  3. .

or just name one. But let us know some reasons, and if we don’t know this person, explain who they are.

And yes, I know it would be more productive if you were sitting next to a stranger who simply needed to hear about Jesus from you, but we’ll take that as a given, okay?

Two weeks ago in the link list we mentioned Erwin McManus’ stage production, Casket.   This week, a 30-second commercial by him in the Doritos “Crash the Superbowl” contest — also called Casket — is one of six finalists.   You can watch all six this week only at this link.   Having watched all six, I’d say it has a really good chance of airing.
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December 14, 2009

World of Dod’s Blog: Charismatic Cartoons

After mentioning this site in December 2nd’s link list, I finally found a couple of  ‘toons on World of Dod’s Blog that were of a size I could screen-shot them for you.   This blog is part funny, part thought-provoking, but you really need to have spent some time in the Pentecostal or Charismatic community to get all the nuances.   And that crowd isn’t known for a lot of introspection, let alone humor.   It’s a whole other world out there!   (Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt…)  So when you find a diamond in the rough…

Here’s another one:

These are just a couple of the recent ones.   Be sure to visit the site at: http://worldofdod.wordpress.com/

All cartoons are copyright of Dod Cartoonist, © 2009. www.worldofdod.wordpress.com

May 27, 2009

Robert A. Schuller Unveils Television Plans

It’s not just about a weekly church service, in fact it’s not about preaching at all.   It involves the purchase of an entire network.   Here’s the story from AP’s Gillian Flaccus:

robert a schullerThe son of famed “The Hour of Power” televangelist Robert H. Schuller Sr. said Tuesday he will launch his own show on AmericanLife TV after acquiring the network in a partnership with ComStar Media Fund LP.

The announcement by Robert A. Schuller Jr. ended months of speculation about his next move after a highly public split with his charismatic father and founder of the popular weekly televangelist program.

The younger Schuller said in an interview with The Associated Press that his new series will debut on AmericanLife in September and air once a week on TV and the Internet. He said he will appear on the show, along with other actors or characters. He declined to provide more specifics.

“It’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” he said. “It will be very contemporary and modern and it’s not going to be a preaching show. It will be a show that shares the message without preaching the message.”

Schuller’s father said in a statement released through a spokesman that he wished his son well despite their recent dustup.

But that’s just the first few lines of a longer story, you can continue reading here.

May 18, 2009

Christianity in Crisis: Confronting Word of Faith Theology

Christianity in Crisis

In a new edition, Christianity in Crisis: The 21st Century, the host of the Bible Answer Man broadcasts and head of Christian Research Institute makes it really clear it’s the excesses of “Word of Faith” theology under discussion, not issues with the wider Pentecostal, Assemblies of God or Charismatic doctrine.   As such, Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hanegraaff (Thomas Nelson) is probably the best tool we have to confront those who espouse the “name it and claim it” or “prosperity gospel” fringe of Christianity.   The doctrinal flights of fancy are simply too numerous to list here; and the Christian blogosphere is thankfully home to people whose beliefs — for the most part — are a litte more stable.

But what a visible “fringe” this is, accounting for a huge percentage of the airtime purchased for religious broadcasting, not to mention entire networks.   Why is that?   That question is beyond the scope of this work, though I wish Hanegraaff had waded into the question, “What is it that draws these evangelists to one particular medium — television — while remaining almost entirely absent from radio and having only a minimal presence on the internet?”   It does make you appreciative of the doctrinal balance to be had on Christian radio.

Word of Faith theology is the entire focus of this work.   In a world where critics obsess over the current emerging/Emergent church; where a new Dan Brown movie reminds us of the gullibility of the public when it comes to Biblical truth; where Jesus Seminar practitioners such as Marcus Borg and Shelby Spong undermine the validity of the gospel accounts; and where atheists are become more militant in their attacks on faith; in all of these situations, a book called Christianity in Crisis could address a variety of battlegrounds for Christ-followers.    It doesn’t.   But its single focus is sufficient to fill all its 400-plus pages and Hanegraaff is wonderfully restrained in expressing his outrage over what gets broadcast, 24-hours a day, over so called “Chrsitian” networks.

If the new edition of Christianity in Crisis were a research paper, it would, at first, score an A- for actual research and a D- for organization of material.   Since this book is a little longer than ones I normally review, I want to take a bit more time to qualify both ratings, beginning with the D-.

Despite a penchant for alliterative and acrostic outlines — some of which are borrowed from the author’s other writings — which appear to show superior organization,   much of the material in the book is repeated, over and over and over again, in different sections.   Transcriptions of television broadcasts are used as a kind of proof-text for multiple points, instead of beginning from the transcripts themselves and then fleshing out their various implications.   Honestly, I’m not sure where the greater efficiency is to be found, but the latter would eliminate the possibility of reading a quotation for the fourth or fifth time, as is presently the case.   The main points of the book might be said in half as many pages, though some of the finer nuances of each TV personality’s beliefs would be lost.   This should not distract from the importance of each individual argument, however.

But I have to qualify the A-, also.   Because the author heads a group called Christian Research Institute, there are immeasurable hours of compiling transcripts of religious television represented here.   Nobody does it better.   But wait a minute, look again at the second half of the updated edition’s title:  “…The 21st Century.” Despite this reference to the 21st Century, there’s very little internet citation here; there is little commentary from other critics — which abound online — and many of the citations and statistics are from the period in the late 1980’s when the original edition was written.

Contrast that with the other updated title I’m reading now, The King James Only Controversy by James White (Bethany House) where you see dozens and dozens of internet references per chapter as White gives fresh information and renders his re-make of a 1994 title appear to be “hot off the press.”

White’s book also highlights a flaw in Hanegraaff’s update inasmuch as entire sections of the original edition are imported wholesale; so a section on recommended Bible translations and study Bibles refers to The Living Bible, not the New Living Translation and there’s no mention at all of the biggest thing in Bibles to happen in the last decade, The English Standard Version. Readers counting on the book for advice would be hard pressed to even find a copy of The Living Bible, though Tyndale keeps a single edition in print.

But you might say, “Internet links are fleeting and the groups under discussion might modify or remove offending pages if Christianity in Crisis were to cite them.”

True.   But as it stands, the seventy-odd pages of bibliography and footnotes contain references to transcripts to Christian television broadcasts that absolutely nobody has access to, unless they also are recording every single thing that airs on TBN and other networks.    Also, without more internet citations, the book has very little relevance to next generation or postmodern readers, who expect the web to form part of modern scholarship.

hank hanegraaffStill, one doesn’t wish to overdo the criticism because we do owe a great debt to both Hanegraaff and his organization for all that they are doing to keep TV preachers accountable.   This book makes its point and makes it well:   The theology being broadcast daily on Christian television is, for the most part, nuttier than a fruitcake.

Based on what I read here, I wouldn’t let Benny Hinn or Joyce Meyer, or Myles Munroe or Creflo Dollar or Joel Osteen walk my dog, let alone watch my kids for five minutes.   It’s not that they aren’t “rightly dividing the Word of God,” but given financial and marital evidence, it’s more like they can’t properly handle anything.    And that includes the trust and responsibility that they’re given when they invade the homes of the unsuspecting on a daily or weekly basis.   Thankfully, Hanegraaff resists the temptation to do any more than allude to character issues, keeping his focus squarely on the contrast between errant doctrine and Biblical truth.

So if there’s someone in your sphere of influence caught up in the world of Paul Crouch, Rod Parsley, Juanita Bynum, Paula White, John Hagee, or any of the other aforementioned scripture twisters;  ignore all of the above critical comments and buy the book.   Read it all, and then loan it out to people who need to see the contrast between Christian television and orthodox Christianity.

February 7, 2009

The Robert Schuller Saga: Another Voice Speaks

crystal-cathedral-interior-2Christian News Wire is quoting a new source who claims that —

The primary rift between the father and the son in the Crystal Cathedral Garden Grove, CA, pulpit was about changes the son, Robert Anthony Schuller, wanted to make in terms of transparency and accountability, but were resisted by his father Robert H. Schuller, key board members and ministry heads of the church, says a source knowledgeable about the church’s inner circle.

According to this report, the younger R.S. met with nothing but resistance when trying to implement changes —

In this case the source claims that “Robert A.’s goals were very simple–install an impartial board not paid by proceeds from the ministry, rework the Hour of Power to attract a younger audience, try different methods of worship to develop a more meaningful spiritual encounter, and to have public financial transparency. This process would install a level of accountability. As of now the leadership is accountable to no one. The leadership behind the scenes limited Robert A’s goal advancement and ridiculed him for lack of leadership,” the source says.

The Cathedral is not, for example, a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a watchdog group giving transparency to faith-based ministries and organizations.

That last point was most interesting to this writer; one would have expected a ministry with its stature to be part of ECFA, but as investigations into some of the more charismatic televangelists by major U.S. network news departments have revealed, not all are.

It should also be noted that this is a ‘one-person’ news report, with material not subject to third-party verification; however its plausibility leads me to report it in this blog. You can read the entire article by linking here.

+

Photo:  When my wife and I visited in 1989, all those empty seats were filled.  Check tomorrow’s TV broadcast, and despite the director’s best shot blocking, you’ll see clearly that this is not presently the case.

Related post in this blog -Crystal Cathedral Has Round of Layoffs  (Jan 24/09)

Related post in this blog – Crystal Cathedral Selling Office Building (Jan 5/09)

Related post in this blog – Robert A Schuller Resigns (Dec 17/08 )

Related post in this blog – Robert A Schuller Removed From Telecast (Oct 26/08 )

January 27, 2009

Stuff Christian Organizations Like: Creating Junk Mail

Filed under: Christianity, Church, missions, philanthropy — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:01 pm

return-to-senderFrom televangelists to missions agencies to … you name it!   Once you get on an organization’s mailing list it can be really difficult to get your name removed.    You tried not making a donation for five years and that didn’t work.   You moved three times, but they kept finding you.   Finally you faked your own death; but the magazines, heartwarming stories, devotional booklets, calendars, free books, etc., etc., etc., just kept coming.

Furthermore, any donation you ever made to the organization’s true mission work has now been totally undermined by the cost of all the materials they’ve sent you since.   Even if you make it really clear that, “This is a one-time gift;” or make it conditional, as in, “I’ll make a single donation if you promise not to add me to a solicitation list;” it doesn’t matter.   Once they have your name…

So here, as a public service we present:

How to get your name removed from an organization’s mailing list.

Step One:   First of all, the most important thing to remember is … oh, forget it, we don’t know either.

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The title of this post is a tribute to the popular blog, Stuff Christians Like, listed in our blogroll or use today’s link.

October 26, 2008

Robert A. Schuller Removed From Hour of Power Telecasts

Crystal Cathedral founder Reverend Robert H. Schuller has removed his son as preacher on the church’s weekly “Hour of Power” syndicated TV broadcast.

Schuller said in a statement read to some 450 congregants Saturday by church president Jim Coleman that he and his son, Robert A. Schuller, “have different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry.”

“For this lack of shared vision and the jeopardy in which this is placing this entire ministry, it has become necessary for Robert and me to part ways,” Schuller said.

Robert A. Schuller will remain as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, though it was unknown whether he will continue to preach, a church spokesman told the Los Angeles Times…

So begins a story on the religion page of USAToday.   Link to that story here, the Orange County Register story here, and a short summary from United Press International (UPI) here.

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