Thinking Out Loud

November 12, 2016

When the Meaning of Evangelical Changes

About two miles down the road from me is a church whose denomination has the word “Evangelical” in its name. Therefore the church had the word very prominently displayed in very large letters on the side of the building.

About two years back, some very wise people at that church deemed that the word was losing the value it had once held and those large letters were removed. (Actually, along with another word in the church name; the sign was shortened from four words to two.)  We call this loss of meaning pejoration.1

pejoration-definition

Over the last 15 months in the United States, the word has become politicized to the point where any implicit sense of sharing the euangelion [εὐαγγέλιον] from which the word derives (meaning good news; gospel) has been lost.2

So while others have bid goodbye to the term (not necessarily the movement) I wasn’t surprised this week when Skye Jethani joined those who wish to abandon association with the label3:

Skye JethaniTo the label “Evangelical”:

There is so much to admire about you, your history, and the theology you represent. You mean “good news,” and came to identify a movement birthed by a commitment to the gospel, the euangelion, of Jesus Christ. Seventy years ago, those called “evangelicals” rejected the angry, condemning rhetoric of the fundamentalists, and they saw the error of theological liberalism that abandoned orthodoxy. They sought a third way that was culturally engaged and biblically faithful. I love that heritage.

But look at what you have become—little more than a political identity with a pinch of impotent cultural Christianity. You’ve become a category for pollsters rather than pastors, a word of exclusion rather than embrace. Yes, there are still godly, admirable leaders under your banner, but many are fleeing your camp to find a more Christ-honoring tribe. When more people associate you with a politics of hate than a gospel of love something is terribly wrong. I take no joy in saying it, but like Esau you have sold your birthright for a bowl of soup. You have exchanged the eternal riches of Christ to satisfy a carnal appetite for power.

In the past I willingly accepted your name as my own. I even worked for your flagship magazine. More recently I have avoided you because of your political and cultural baggage, but I’ve not objected when others identified me with you because your heritage was worth retaining. That passive acceptance is over now. What was admirable about your name has been buried, crushed under the weight of 60 million votes. I am no less committed to Christ, his gospel, and his church, but I can no longer be called an evangelical. Farewell, evangelicalism.

With regret,

Skye

What do you think? Can you blame him? Is “Christ-follower” going to be the next identifier?


1 We looked at pejoration 3 years ago here in reference to possible overuse of the term radical in light of the more recent term radicalization.

2 I’ve always wanted to include some Greek text here. Though I’ve not formally studied the language, I’m a huge fan of feta cheese.

3 This was actually one of four open letters (see the link above) with the others being, “To my children,” “To my Muslim neighbors,” and “To Christians who did not vote for Trump.”

December 23, 2011

Get Your Picture Taken Next to Jesus

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:29 am

I found this today at the devotional blog Daily Encouragement and am fairly confident that, since it’s rather short, authors Stephen and Brooksyne Weber wouldn’t object to me including it in its entirety. They titled it True Worshipers.

“Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him'” (Matthew 2:7,8). “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23).

Here in America we are already in the midst of the next presidential race although the election is still over 10 months away!  Among the hot topics is the pursuit of religious or value voters and regardless of the politician’s political ideology attempts are made by many to use the name of Jesus to gain voters (when the group of potential voters serves their own political interest.)

When catering to a specific voting constituency political candidates jostle to use Jesus, a sort of “getting my picture taken beside Him” approach attempting to convey that “I too worship Him.”  Although only God knows their real heart and motive, many of them hardly pass the “you shall know them by their fruit” test!

Herod was the first to have a political interest in worshipping Jesus.  He feigned interest as he sought the advice of the Magi to find out where Jesus was.   His insincere explanation for needing their advice was so that “I too may go and worship Him.”  However the text goes on to reveal that Herod’s motive was jealousy and the real intent of his search was to find Jesus and kill Him.  He certainly had no plan to worship the newborn King.

The Magi (wise men) however appeared to have the purest of motives in their quest.  They had responded to the star seen from the east (some authorities feel as far away as present Iran) and began a long, arduous journey to seek out the Child.  When they had worshipped Him and gave of their gifts they were instructed in a dream to take another way back, rather than reporting to Herod.

They, along with the shepherds, Anna, and Simeon are the very first true worshipers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Later, during His ministry, Jesus spoke of “true worshipers” as those who worship God in “spirit and in truth” and taught his hearers, “for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”  What about you and me today?  Are we true worshipers, the kind of worshiper the Father seeks?  That’s my heart’s desire today, and I trust that it is yours as well!

~Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

October 12, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Here in the frozen north, Thanksgiving has already come and gone, but that didn’t stop temperatures from reaching 30 degrees Celsius on the weekend (mid 80s Fahrenheit) for three straight days which made link-catching less appealing than suntanning.

  • For you worship-leader types, here’s one of the most comprehensive articles you’ll see on the “worship wars” discussed entirely in terms of church architecture.
  • Just nine more days to another Harold Camping end-of-life-as-we-know-it date.
  • If you don’t know what I mean when I say, “Stethoscope Video” then you haven’t seen it.  Take 2 1/2 minutes and enjoy.
  • It’s official: Mitt Romney tells Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress that he thinks that Baptists are a cult.  …Okay, not really, but maybe he should have.  Here’s the original story,  a response from Robert Mouw, and a sample of comments; all from CNN.
  • You’ll want to read the comments to find more links to get the full 411 on this story, but the blogger Tulip Girl has a blog post implying that another child death may be linked to the controversial book, To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl.
  • No, what follows is not a typo: Is it possible to hate Jesus but love Christianity?  David Paul Dorr looks at that here and here [part two link to follow!]
  • Are you “crazy busy” all the time?  Pete Wilson hints you may need to invest in the concept of sabbath.
  • This isn’t new, but… here’s one of those church video clips from Igniter media that uses a Facebook theme; naturally, this one’s titled Follow.
  • Canadian Anglican Pastor Leonard Griffith is now 90 and just keeps on going.
  • More from James MacDonald on the decision to invite T. D. Jakes to a forthcoming seminar, aka The Elephant Room controversy.
  • Hey kids!  Wanna learn Biblical Hebrew in just three easy lessons?  Well, you can’t.  But maybe 40 moderately challenging lessons from Charles Grebe at Briercrest College and Seminary. Learn more about Charles at AnimatedHebrew.com starting with the Hebrew alphabet. Shalom!
  • The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) celebrated a 50-year anniversary earlier this month.
  • In a culture focused on the excitement of church planting, we never think about the sadness of church closings that are constantly taking place at the same time.
  • Natalie Grant adds “actor” to her list of accomplishments with a feature role in the movie Decision.
  • From Internet Monk writer Jeff Dunn

There is a story told of an old woman who claimed she and God talked on a regular basis. Her bishop was doubtful of her claims to hear from God. After all, he prayed on a regular basis, but the Lord never spoke back to him. So he decided to put this woman to the test in order to reveal her for either a misguided soul or a fraud. He went to her and said, “The next time you are talking with God, ask him to tell you what my most grievous sin was.” The woman agreed to do so.

A week later the bishop returned and asked, “Did you ask God to reveal to you my worst sin?”

“Yes,” said the woman. “I did ask him.”

“Well,” said the bishop, “what did he say?”

The woman said simply, “He says he forgets.”

November 12, 2008

An Optimistic Cartoon

Filed under: election, Humor, politics — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:58 pm

barack

Couldn’t resist stealing this from ASBO Jesus, just as he couldn’t resist stealing the punchline from elsewhere.   This blog is always linked here, this post appeared on November 5th.   Start reading here.

November 10, 2008

The Family Watching The Election Coverage

Filed under: politics — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:58 pm

Too many HTs for me to trace back:

Kenya US Election

Extended family members of U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama react as election results come in, at the family’s homestead in Kogelo village, Kenya where Obama’s step mother lives.

Matt Dunham / AP   sourced back to ajc.com

November 6, 2008

My Election Prediction Accurate as Promised

Filed under: election, politics — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:39 pm

candidatesThis is the part where you go back to my earlier post on October 27th, which said “This election prediction will be accurate within 1%,” and read what I wrote and go, “Wow!  How did he do that?”   What can I say, It’s a gift.  See, I told you so.

October 30, 2008

If the World Could Vote

Filed under: election, politics — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:27 pm

Thanks to our friend Amy for telling us about this website. Here’s the WHO and the WHY…

Who is behind the site?

Just three guys from Iceland. The site is independent from all political parties, companies or hidden agendas. It’s just an idea a 22 year old guy in Iceland came up with and executed with a little help from a couple of friends.

Why are you doing this?

Just out of curiosity. The president of the United States is a powerful man, probably the most powerful person on the planet. So everyone seems to have an opinion on who should be the next president of the United States. We thought it would be interesting to see who would be the next president if the whole world could vote. It’s also a challenge to try to beat the number of voters in the last US elections. So spread the news.

…So now that you’ve got the concept, you can click here.

October 29, 2008

The Sarah Palin Internet Hook

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:27 pm

Christianity Today‘s editorial on evangelicalism that uses Sarah Palin as a hook generated quite a reaction on the main site.

Anything on Sarah Palin seems to guarantee strong reactions. See The Boston Globe‘s Michael Paulson post on comments.

“In my own brief blogging career, Sarah Palin has been the gift that keeps on giving — she has generated an astonishing number of comments, from both ends of the political, and theological, spectrum, many of them saturated with incredible hostility directed by the non-religious at the religious and vice versa.”

This entire article originally posted October 29, at the Christianity Today politics blog; written by Sarah Pulliam and posted here just to see how OUR blog traffic goes up after running it!!!

Photo insert:  This book from TYNDALE, a Christian publishing house, was one of the first out of the starting gate.

October 27, 2008

This U.S. Presidential Election Prediction Will Be Accurate Within 1%

Filed under: blogging, election, politics — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:10 pm

So here goes.   I’m predicting an Obama win.   The popular vote will be really close, something like 52% Obama, 48% McCain.  Maybe even tighter than that.  But the all important electoral college votes will be much more decisive, something like 348 Obama to 164 McCain.   Give or take one or two.  I’m also predicting that the night of the election will be seen as a great victory for civil rights.

And when it’s all over, I am predicting that I will say, See, I told you so.

October 7, 2008

Sarah Palin Comparisons to Admiral James Bond Stockdale

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:07 am

Many critics felt Palin floundered during the Vice Presidential debate comparing her performance to that of VP candidate Admiral James Stockdale, who was Ross Perot’s running mate during the 1992 election, going against George Bush, Sr. and Bill Clinton. (Yes, Bond is his middle name.)

In a Wikipedia article about Stockdale, he gets support the following year (’93) from — of all people — comedian Dennis Miller:

Now I know [Stockdale’s name has] become a buzzword in this culture for doddering old man, but let’s look at the record, folks. The guy was the first guy in and the last guy out of Vietnam, a war that many Americans, including our present President, did not want to dirty their hands with. The reason he had to turn his hearing aid on at that debate is because those [expletive] animals knocked his eardrums out when he wouldn’t spill his guts. He teaches philosophy at Stanford University, he’s a brilliant, sensitive, courageous man. And yet he committed the one unpardonable sin in our culture: he was bad on television.

Stockdale was an example of what happens when a great person is tapped to do a job that requires a political person.  The unpardonable sin:  being bad on television.

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