Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#168-King James Version-Part 1

From day one when I started this blog, I had this post in mind. Why have I never touched it until now? Well firstly, I kind of forgot about it until Darwin reminded me of its rich rewards. Also, I was and am still overwhelmed by the amount of depth of information that is needed to report in order to give an accurate verdict. So much information that frankly, I don't think is able to be conveyed properly in a blog post - but whatever, there is no time like the present to commit a hijacking.

Also, much of the information I present is in debt primarily to a book called One Bible Only: Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible by Roy Beacham & Kevin Bauder which is written not just for the educated but also for the unlearned, and further I also rely heavily on the rhetoric by one of my spiritual schoolmasters, C.S. Lewis in his essay titled "Modern Translations of the Bible" found in the book God in the Dock.

All that said, I will break this post into two or even three parts.

It started several years ago in a house where a group of a few young men and elders were doing a weekly Bible study about various topics of concern. I was an idiot back then...I went looking for issues to raise in our understanding of the Bible....The issue I had raised at this particular Bible study, which was completely immature, was "Does God know everything? If God forgets our sins upon repentance, then it follows that He does not know everything, since of course I know the event of an immoral action I had committed that God Himself does not know." (For those curious, I do find the evidence that God "forgets" our sins rather wanting, although there are a few places that allude to such a miracle).

As I raised the question, the Bishop of the church, who is a man of much repute in our organization, got out of his seat walked over to me and said in a frustrated tone, "Do you know what your problem is? It's that (pointed to my Oxford annotated NRSV verion of the Bible). You need to stop thinking so much and get your head buried in the King James Version of the Bible." Needless to say, what had always been an informal, relaxed environment in the room quickly escalated into an environment of much hostility and awkwardness. I refrained from comment.

But that man's approval of the KJV over and against any other translation (perhaps he would approve the NKJV), is a tantamount representation of the tone of many of our fundamentalist elders and prophets against any modern translation of the Bible.

If the KJV is the continued preferred/authorized/only endorsed translation of the Bible in our denomination twenty years from now, I should rather find myself in the hills of Pakistan with an American Flag sewn onto me and a megaphone attached to my helmet blaring a Pat Robertson sermon in Arabic.

And it's for three reasons:
1)The Philosophical underpinnings of a KJVite
2) the Historicity of the KJV is terribly flawed in comparison to it's counterparts (Part 2)
3) The Poor Logic that is used to defend the superiority of the KJV over the use of other translations (Part 3)

Before I go further, let me emphasize that I have no issue if people prefer the KJV to other translations for their own personal devotion. As with all translations of the Bible, I highly recommend you pick 1 or 2 versions that really resonate with you. That you feel you can grasp..."to each his own." I myself even prefer the KJV and it's poetic style for many of the prophets of the Old Testament.

My issue is with those Apostolics who try to make a dogmatic position about their preferred translation of choice. In short, when Apostolics claim that the KJV is superior, or more "holy," and should be preferred, they are making an objective/absolute position about that which is much more subjective/uncertain than fundamentalist Apostolics would prefer. But yet we live in an age where if an evangelist uses any other translation other than the KJV (or NKJV), then most of the congregation eagerly waits for the giant cane from the side of the stage to reel the speaker right on off the platform.

The Philosophy


There may be some of you out there asking, "why do we need other translations?" You may think to yourself that what we already have is good enough, for God has certainly sanctioned it on high, and doesn't allowing a new translation mean there is something wrong with the old one? And thus what such a questioner believes is at stake, is someone trying to make the sacred words by which they have grown accustomed to in the KJV are being made profane, compromised, and watered down for the uneducated consumption of those vulgar youth. Others may argue that any inability to comprehend the KJV can be aided by asking the Holy Spirit to open your eyes on how to understand the KJV. I have heard many people say they struggled at first with reading the KJV, but God made a miracle happen in their minds, wherein one day God lifted the veil of confusion, and the KJV was as clear as modern English.

I hope the above satisfies the gist of the standard pro-KJV argument to which I am countering. If there is a strawman argument, please rebuke me accordingly. Of course there are other nuanced arguments which I will get into, but I hope the paragraph above gives us an appropriate launching point.

So what do I mean about the philosophy about the KJV? Well I don't really think it's about an undying love for the King James English or else Shakespeare would be more in vogue amongst our fellowship, nor the fact that I John 5:7 is found only in the KJV translation of the Bible, because it can be quite a pain to try to explain this verse from a oneness position to a trinitarian (the verse is not actually supposed to be in the Bible. It was added centuries later).

Rather the KJV debate is about something else other than the text within the KJV. It's about certainty. We are after all the fellowship that possesses "the full truth" (future post). If we are certain about our knowledge being true, then we can rest easy and stop searching. It's on the up and up for us. And thus if the Bible is inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) and perhaps inerrant, you need not worry that the text within that Bible is imperfect. Every dot and every punctuation in the Bible is perfect.

But the question is which Bible is inspired?

Was the perfect Bible the Masoretic text of the Old Testament in it's original Hebrew? Or was it the Septuagint which was the initial Greek translation of the Old Testament (the New Testament writers quote from both the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint although the differences between them are many and many verses appear in one and not the other).

Was the perfect Bible the original books of the New Testament written in Greek by their biblical authors otherwise known as the autographs (which we do not possess any of)? Or perhaps the Perfect version of the Bible was the Greek manuscripts (hand written copies of the original books, or copies of copies of copies, etc..)? Or was the perfect Bible the one written out by Jerome in the 5th century translated into Latin that became known as the infamous latin vulgate (most famous for being the declared truly inspired version of the Bible by the Roman Catholic Church) ? Or could all of them be perfectly equal in perfection?

But what about the fact that with all of the Greek manuscripts of the Bible we have found (the handwritten copies of the original Bible written in Greek), thousands upon thousands of manuscripts, to which are most of our knowledge of scripture is based on, no two copies of these ancient versions of the Bible are exactly alike. In fact the most similar versions of the various Greek manuscripts still differ at least 6-10 times per chapter!

Which of these manuscripts is the perfect one?

And which version of the KJV is the perfect one? The original 1611 version (with the Apocrypha!), the 1629 version (with many edits and without the Apocrypha), or 1769 version which is the KJV we have come to know and love but yet has 75,000 detailed changes between it and the 1611 original).

Pretty Messy stuff.

Note that the II Timothy 3:16 assures us that the scripture that was written was inspired. It says nothing of the inspiration of the copying, preserving, and translating processes.

So instead of working our way through the mucky muck, or educating ourselves on the issue in hopes that we can get more to an accurate interpretation of the Bible, we choose certainty instead and put the veil over our eyes and we choose this day that as for us and our household, we will abide by the Holy King James Version of the Bible.

As Donald Miller said in a recent blog, "We like simple explanations of reality because we like control. We want to stuff the complexity of the world into our little minds because if we can hold it all in our minds, there is no mystery."

Perhaps you may say the process to which the KJV was conceived was inspired, but where does God ever promise in His Word the infallible transmission, translation, and interpretation of His Word? Especially when such garbage as I John 5:7 finds itself in the KJV and is nowhere in the early ancient Greek manuscripts? ("early" added on correction from Jared since I John 5:7 does appear in late Greek manuscripts) I ask you further then, if God could inspire the transmission process to the KJV (which wasn't even the first English translation of the Bible), on what grounds can you logically say that God may not inspire a further translation in the future?

Sure, it's nice having our theology, and our favorite interpretation of the Bible in a perfect box, and thus any "new theology" or "new translation" of the Bible can easily be denied, but if that's the case let's lock ourselves in our coffin now.

Just do not confuse certainty for truth. The more certain we are about a truth, the more likely we will miss the actual truth when it passes by because we are distracted by that which we are certain. God is infinite, and thus not fully comprehensible to the limited finite human brain. So let's not put our weight in a certain translation of the Bible just because it appeases our desire for neatness and simplicity regarding God's Word.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

#167-Mark Driscoll



Editor's Note: Several weeks back, a person started following SAL's twitter. The person's name was "Slapastolic." And Their tweet's were of epic proportions. For example, some of my favorite tweets of theirs:


"BREAKING NEWS: Unmarried bible college senior snaps when asked what her plans are for after college."


and


":WPF leaders call for unity. :-/"


Essentially, I realized Slapastolic was the Jerry Springer of apostolics to my Maury Povich, Galileo to my Copernicus,  Emerson to my Thoreau, Bob Dylan to my Pete Seeger, Joker to my Two-Face, Jimmy Page to my Robert Plant, David to my Jonathan? 


Anyways, the point is these guys are the more rambunctious, less apologetic, and thusly way funnier version of SAL... (I say "these guys" because it's actually two guys who go by the names of Alfred and Bruce Wayne. I really don't know who these guys are).


So naturally, I wanted more of their wit than what 140 characters could offer on twitter, and asked they they write the occasional blog for SAL. And after several negotiations over an intense two-day email summit, Slapastolic agreed to blog occasionally, and even more encouraging have set up their own blog. 


Further, they have inspired me to be more active in twittering (which will be much in the same vain as them), and thus starting today, will start to do some tweets distinct from this blog.


Bottom Line, here is Slapastolic's blog:


http://www.slapastolic.wordpress.com/


And below is their first blog for SAL and their own sight....


#167-Mark Driscoll


Mark Driscoll is the newest, hippest, hottest thing to hit the Christian circuit since Jars of Clay. We love his haircut, his affliction button-ups, his willingness to say "crap," and his jokes about home-school co-ops (because we ALL know the kid he just described). We love his man-jewelry, his affinity for MMA, and the fact that he preaches in jeans. 

Admittedly, our hearts were broken the first time we heard him name the UPC as a heretical cult. We wondered why he didn't love us back, like an 8th grade girl with a crush on Zac Effron. 

But, we will have our day. When he dies, there will be urban legends - never-before-seen diaries and whispers that he actually DID baptize in Jesus' name, spoke in tongue, and had a death-bed shave.

Monday, June 28, 2010

#166-Photography/Photoshoots

Another Stephany Miralez recommended Post:

I once heard a preacher preach about how S-E-Xual magazine covers were getting at the party store. They recounted at how actresses are frequently seen in the nude with a prop covering the explicit parts of the body in such magazines as Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Better Homes and Garden, etc..... They lamented how difficult it must be for our generation of Apostolics to grow up in such a world.

I thought to myself, "It's not their fault. It's ours! We can't blame the magazines for going to such extremes. We are the ones who forced the issue!"

And here's what I mean....before everyone could illegally download a photoshop editor, the only people who were able to make pictures look sweet were the magazine companies. And now that we have acquired such technology, the magazine editors need to find a whole other angle to differentiate themselves: Half Nudity!

But alas, the horror of technology is that its cost gets lower and lower, to the point that the peasants can get their paws on piece of technology as long as you give it enough time.

Cameras are cheaper. Photoshop editors are more frequent. And this bodes well for the Apostolic.

With that comes not only an apostolic love for photography, but also a weird infatuation for photoshoots.

Photoshoots...like senior picture photo shoots.

Except people are narcissistic enough to get 2-3 senior picture photo shoots a year.

Even when they are grown up.

Which leads the grown ups to still want to play dress up.

Which causes all the facebook spies to come to out and scour the photo shoot dress ups for any sign of make up.

Narcissism is at an all-time high in my generation, and photo shoots complement this trend very well. It makes people believe that they are GQ models.

Also, another consequence of the apostolic infatuation with photography is that the distinction between a professional and amateur photographer is greatly muddled. Suddenly the veil has been lifted about the "professionalism of photography," as all that really meant was the professional photographer had bought a 2000 dollar camera and knew how to adjust the lens' appropriately. This is the great leveling that postmodernism has spoken of for years, which the ministers who report from on high fear deeply.

Now all one needs to do to separate themselves from the pack of countless amateur photographers on Facebook is buy a 500 dollar camera instead of a 200 dollar camera.

Do you remember the trend a few years back where suddenly everyone wanted to be an interior designer because of the onslaught of TV shows dealing with the subject? Well now everyone wants to be a photographer because of the onslaught of apostolic photoshoots on facebook....

In fact 40% of Apostolics in high school are considering majoring in Photography.

This leads to my prediction that the 40% of Apostolics in high school considering majoring in photography, become hopelessly unemployed 10 years from now as the demand for a good photographer is absolutely zero as everyone's eight year old nephew will know how to take pictures from a weird angle, with odd lighting, and then apply a slight percentage of sepia in the photoeditor over the photo.

And for goodness sake, what about the music Bands?

Remember on myspace, how it was only bands that could find the good myspace photographers to do photoshoots that looked really sweet?

Well they lost that market with all the facebook photoshoots....

The only thing bands have left, that is not being done by everyone else, is the use of garageband on Macs. And don't worry it won't be long until that is gone....

But if I may add one thing to the recent debacle of people dressing like clowns but trying to look serious and then taking many pictures of it:

The Bible teaches us to love our neighbor as ourself. Therefore, as a prelude to loving our neighbor we must first love ourselves. I just wonder if we are loving the wrong things about ourselves?

The term Narcissist gets its name from the Greek myth about Narcissus, the son of a god who was cursed to be in love with himself. One day he saw his reflection in a pond and was so infatuated with his looks that he kept on staring and staring at himself, and did so until the day he died.


Saints and peers alike, look now at your facebooks, what do you see? Is it a shrine of yourself that you stare at with glee?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

#165-Prayer Cloths


Here's what is going to happen: Ryan Evans, our newest member of the SAL family (inducted as grammar nazi a few weeks back) is going to present his post about prayer cloths. I am going to post a point of rebuttal of sorts....that really gets more of the nuances of the thing....


Ryan Evans:


Growing up in the Apo movement there are lots of things that we do that I never thought about - prayer cloths being one of them. The prayer cloth story usually goes something like this: "a friend, family member, boss, spouse etc., couldn't make it to service to be prayed for', so we call for the elders of the church to anoint a cloth and pray over it and the person interceding on behalf of the non-present individual in need of healing, deliverance, salvation, then takes the cloth to the person that needs it. Usually, that's the end of the matter. Sometimes we might hear a praise report, but most of the time, it's done.

But lets fast forward a few years and look at a recent example. I'm in service (playing the keyboard), and the prayer cloth thing starts to happen. As faith starts building, an elderly gentleman in the back speaks up and gives a testimony regarding a prayer cloth. He stated that he had been sick and received a prayer cloth and was healed. So far, pretty standard stuff right? But then he says that every morning when he wakes up, he pins the prayer cloth to his t-shirt and as a result hasn't been sick in over three (3) years.

Now immediately warning bells start going off in my head, but people start shouting, the man was affirmed from the pulpit and euphoric happiness and joy started flowing and more prayer cloths were handed out. I was under the impression that God was the one who did the healing, but according to this turn of events, we now believe in sacred objects, amulets and/or idols. I would have thought this was a limited perspective, but based on the recent furor regarding HMH, I can see that I might be incorrect. I struggled to keep a straight face (I did) I started thinking about the implications of prayer cloths and how Apo's are usually pretty anti idols and anything else taking the place of God in our lives (I mean come on, someone says the word Trinity and we start screaming - there's only One right?) and was wondering how this seemingly acceptable yet totally counter-Apostolic teaching was so openly accepted; I thought of another friend who told me about his step-mother putting a prayer cloth under his bed to keep him from sinning (If I remember correctly it was a red prayer cloth that she got from a ladies conference. Maybe there are different properties to different colors/shapes/sizes?) Maybe we could just start handing out prayer cloths to everyone and we could avoid doctors visits, cancer and any sort of disease. Common cold? Done. Why? Cause we have prayer cloths under our beds and attached to our clothes.

All of this led me to do a little research regarding 'prayer cloths' and their biblical precedent. Turns out that God gave Paul the power to perform "unusual miracles." An example of this was when handkerchiefs or aprons that ha merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed and evil spirits expelled (Acts 19:11-12). A little further reading will show others trying to cast out evil spirits without much effect because, although the spirits knew Paul and Jesus, they didn't know the other men. Once again, pointing people back to Jesus and The Message, which seems to be the point of the 'unusual miracles.'

But this doesn't stop us, because we like our prayer cloths. And we intend on keeping them. As a matter of fact, there's a box of them just waiting to be anointed, so come on up and let the party begin! To those of you who are not affected by the mystical power of the cloth, I'm not sure what to tell you. Maybe yours got anointed wrong (although they didn't anoint them in the biblical account of Paul).

One last thing, let me just say that I completely believe in the healing power of Jesus - I've experienced it myself and have seen it too often to doubt its effectiveness and authenticity. What I'm suggesting is that some our practices get a little caught up in hype and emotionalism and we end up perpetuating traditions that are based on very little, if anything at all and potentially even detract from our Savior. But, with that being said, where else can you find funny stuff like this happening? Sunday service = good times.

Rebuttal from Joel Riley:


Now in general I agree with Ryan. I think prayer cloths can become idols. Just like my complaint with holy magic hair was that hair was becoming an intercessory device that either bridged power to the cross, or just hair on a female superseded the bridging power of the cross altogether, prayer cloths can also end up serving this process.

Look at this illustration I made, although vulgar, I think conveys the various roles of the prayer cloth (or holy magic hair) in terms of intercession:


Okay, while it may be hard to read (any bigger and it wouldn't have fit), know that the red box with gray writing in it says "Prayer Cloth" (you could substitute holy magic hair as well).

The only model I find acceptable for understanding of intercession is model C above. The first model (A) suggests one needs an additive intercessory device (e.g. cloth, hair) to gain access to the cross and thus infers a limiting on the amount of access one has to the healing power of the cross without the intercessory device.

Model B has all access to healing being understood without need for a cross. At most the cross serves as a symbol of the fact that we now have power to the kingdom through whatever intercessory device we choose to use.

Model C, although the most simplistic puts the entire onus of whatever access we may be fortunate enough to come by to the supernatural on that of the cross.

It is not that in model C, the cloth is without benefit. The healing is something that we cannot see in our physical perceptions. While we know the cross is the avenue by which healings can occur, we do not even see the cross, but can only have faith int. Thus a cloth could serve as a visual reminder of the power in the unseen. The power of healing does not come in or through the cross. But rather a courage to continue to persist in prayer for "a fixing" and to continue to have faith could be attributed to the cloth.

I remember vaguely, about ten years ago, a preacher was coming to our church about once a month from near-by with a whole message revolving around prayer cloths and the power therein. Week after week people would line up to receive the cloths as they were prayed over and anointed with oil. The desire at such a point was not for more faith to believe in the cross, but rather somewhere in the process, the cloth become an object of mystical powers. Wherein, the cloth possessed the potential of divine influence. Most of that resulted in us in the church putting the prayer cloths in our wallets with kind of an understanding that in the absence of money, the prayer cloth would serve as a mystical father of the money that would eventually be flowing out of the wallet (Sadly, the sick kids in Africa were left without healing because they didn't have the money to afford such cloths). If anyone has any philosophical background, this whole concept of a prayer cloth is seeped in Platonism. Thankfully when we got a new pastor, we moved away from such pseudo-mysticism.

People may point to the story of cloths in Acts, but Ryan when he first proposed this topic, pointed out that Paul's shadow healed people too. Now I have seen people try and be healed via cloth, but I never seen someone claim that by touching their shadow one will be healed. So why be so inconsistent? If the cloth can heal, so can the shadow. But if we don't allow one form such as the power of the shadow, it would be inconsistent to allow for power in the cloth.

I guess my ultimate concern is this: The Catholic church has upwards of 5,000 Saints that a Catholic can pray to in intercession for a specific need (the Saint you pray to is determined by your genre of need, for example if you want to pray for an animal you pray to St. Francis). Thus, one doesn't pray to Jesus/God for the need. Rather, one prays to a Saint who then intercedes to a slightly less caring Jesus to convince Him to fix the need.

But if there is a place that I may differ slightly from Ryan (though I am not sure if he disagrees), is that through the whole Holy Magic Hair fiasco, I guess I am allowing for the possibility that "God honors faith." I haven't worked out exactly what this means and if I get access to the resources I desire, there will be much more on this idea in the future. It revolves around Hebrews 11:6, and it's just that if God is loving, and someone is innocently trying to pursue God, and uses a misguided approach to gaining a healing in their life, I do not know if God is going to be stubborn and stomp his feet because their mental understanding of the cross and how healings work is out of whack. Just as ambiguous as this point was, my understanding of the declaration is equally as vague, because with such an understanding, many more nuances have to be hashed out. So I am choosing silently exit the room. I guess perhaps in these scenarios of misguided prayers (praying via prayer cloth), the cross' power is so great it transcends such mental errors and works its power in spite of the ignorance.


(Reminder: Comments can only be left now if one has a Google account. This does not mean an alias cannot be used, it just allows the opportunity to block repeated comment offenders from continually posting. Go here to make a google account if you don't have one (it takes two minutes).

Monday, June 21, 2010

#164-Facebook Prayers


It's been quite a long two weeks, but alas my schoolwork is on a pause and thus now can continue as desired on blogging nonsense...and the good news is, past recommender, Stephany "the Meritorious" Mirelez has provided some darling post suggestions to help aid the process (including this post).

Hopefully, you have facebook. If you don't, stop reading this. It will make no sense.

That said, it seems within the past year or so, people started posting their prayers over facebook. Little do the facebook prayer warriors realize that the first person to do this was a mute.

But whatever the source of the facebook prayer may be, facebook prayers are becoming more and more a reality, and to properly process this cultural phenomenon we need to talk about it.

First and most importantly we must ask, why. Some people appeal to facebook to inform of a prayer request in hopes that others will join in on the petitionary prayer. This is all right and well. But the reality is this kind of facebook status is the exception to the rule....

For most facebook prayers are not directed to one's social network of friends as one would suppose, but rather appeal directly to Jesus/God.

And for what need is this? Where is the Matthew 6:1,5-6 in all of this?

 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you"....


But whatever the ethics are against such public demonstrations of petition is secondary to the real reality of it all....


Because the facebook prayer warriors have realized something you and me don't:

God has a facebook...


And basically what happens, as far I can figure is that God has an allotment of how many prayers he answers per dispensation. The more you request something, the more likelihood he moves your prayer up on the priority list to get your prayer answered....

This means many millions of prayers are waiting in queue to be answered. But it's not to say there aren't short cuts to the top of the prayer list. First off, "having the full truth" increases the likelihood. God loves Apostolics more than other Christians. There are other things you can do to get your name increased on the list (e.g. uncut hair, and prayer cloths (to be addressed later on this week).

But the other relatively unknown method of getting your prayer answered expediently is via facebook. Apparently, God gets on facebook just before his bedtime.....and he's looking for 4 things in everyone's facebook status:

-If you used swears/ quoted a lyric to a secular song (so he can record this as a sin)
-If you made an "emergentesque" grace-loving, legalism-hating status (so he can record this as a sin)
-If you made a pro-holiness, apostolic identity promotion status (so he can increase any "prayers in waiting" up on the priority to answer list)
-If you directly prayed to Him directly through facebook..(so can very rapidly increase your priority order on the priority list).

It goes something like this:
God: Hey Gabriel, I just liked one of your statuses...the one about if Patrick Swayze thinks he will get into heaven, he is going to have reenact the movie Ghost again except instead of talking to Whoopi Goldberg and making out with Demi Moore, he has to talk to Demi MOore and make out with whoopi....

Gabriel: LOL

God (still scanning the statuses): WHOA! Jake Cook in Biloxi, Mississippi just prayed to me on facebook. This is his third time in a month. And this time he used the word "Shekhinah" and "Glory" both of which he has no idea what they mean in his current context but they seem always refer to something spiritual. ...Gabriel, what is Billy COok requesting for prayer recently?

Gabriel:  Uh he wants the iPhone 4.

God: Alright, arrange it so he gets a few more dollars than expected on his tax returns.

Gabriel: But he just went to the movie theater last week.

God: What movie did he see?

Gabriel: Marmaduke

God: Love that film. I preemptively forgive him.

Gabriel: What prayer are we going to not answer in it's place...

God: Uh, just don't let one of those kids dying of AIDS in Botswana get the medication he is expected to get this week. Besides, I never see any of those Botwana kids on facebook....

Of course I am being facetious with the hypothetical conversation above. And of course this is not really how God works. I just wonder what really is the utility of facebook prayers....


Perhaps it's a way to witness. And if that's the case I bid you well in such endeavors...

But is this honestly the purpose?

I rather suggest the reasons of facebook prayers are much more simple, but also quite vulgar...

They are a way to signal to our peers "Hey i am spiritual since I have the guts to put something like this down and you do not. And if you are not putting statuses up such as these,  then I can be in a place of judgment over you." But maybe that is an overly simplistic assessment as well..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#163-Worship Songs/Bible Verses Projected onto a Screen

 The 4 most important inventions of the Modern Era for apostolic churches:

  • Insanely long personality tests that get you to realize nobody likes you.
  • The idea that the few dollars you give to Sheaves for Christ not only somehow buys a missionary an entire car, but also that for every dollar you give you have an outside gambling chance that you'll get ten dollars back. (Here's the deal: How about I keep my money. And God gives the money he would have given to me as a reward, straight to the missionary, since the missionary needs it more?)
  • The word "relationship" as a trump card to any and every discussion about anything regarding Christianity and holiness. It's going to be a close call to which term gets overused so much that it loses all cultural linguistic value within our circles: "Relationship" or "Swagger."
  • Song lyric and Bible verse projector in church (And this is our focus)

The value of the projector is priceless. It's most important utility is twofold: 1) When a a guest comes in, not only will he/she be able to sing along with the song during worship which, without the projector, the guest would be left to feel like an alien in a strange land that doesn't know the native language. 2) The guest will be able to read the scripture that is being read aloud by the preacher and understand that the preacher "isn't making this stuff up" but is rather found in the Word of God. 

But the reality is, the value does not stop there.....

Rather, just like any and every bit of technology that is introduced, and like any rule that is preached, we apostolic laity do what we always do with such things: We take the rule and technology right up to their preacher-endorsed boundary, and just start beating the life out of that boundary line with a baseball bat. Like the girl who is told that skirts should go below the knee, and thus the girl only measures such a skirt length when she is standing up (leaving a whole lot of knee cap for pubescent boys to lust after when she sits down!), the projector too was permitted in church, but with caution that if we people from neighboring churches find out we have a projector in our church and we are seen walking out of our church, people will just assume we are playing rated R movies on the projector....(So therefore, we just don't go to the movie theater.......wait....I mean....errr... I mean church....wait....TICKED!)

But for serious now, we Apostolics have taken the projector that was brought into church as a tool for guests, and abused the living daylights out of it. Ask me how many Worship songs I can sing word for word: Zero.
Because I stand there during worship service reading the song as I sing it. And it's so relaxing! Of course the downfall is  when the person who runs the projector is a bit slow on their "slide changing" skills and thus when the wrong verse/chorus of a song is being displayed different from what is being sung, I become the most lonely man in the world because I don't know what to do....I usually have two options:

1) Just make an adjustment, and try matching the words on the screen with the music that is being played. Or you could just hum along to the tune of the songThis never works to perfection, but it is preferred over the second option:

2) Panic!  Switch on the nearest fire alarm and  realize there is no fire. To make up for this mistake, set your pew on fire. Panic even more. Lock the guy who runs the projector inside his little room to ensure his demise.
Push all the elderly and children out of the way as you make your way for the exits.  

Of course there are two other silent joys during worship service in regards to the projector and song lyrics: First, telling any and everyone around us if one of the worship singers doesn't know the words to one of the song (this has been on the decline with the exponential increase in "back-wall" screen projections where the song lyric slides are projected on the back wall for the singers to read)

The other joy is when a word is misspelled on the slide by the dude who runs the projector. Inevitably, when you see this word misspelled you first wonder if it is really misspelled or rather your previous understanding of how the word was spelled is incorrect. In the midst of this uncertainty, hope that someone else points out the word is misspelled so to find confirmation. After a consensus is found regarding the misspelling, tell everyone in whisper and giggles. And then look back to the dude who runs the projector every 15 seconds in pity, wondering if you should be the one to tell the projector guy of his error.

The last advantage of the projector for the lay person is also the most despised by the minister:
The bible verses on the screen allow us to not have to remember to bring our bible to church. 

I remember preachers demanding apostolic laymen the need to have their bible in church  before the days of the projector. This was a valid decree by the minister and it was not without results. But the moment the projector came into the church, and the bible verses were displayed on the screen, and immediately the actual practical utility for bringing your bible to church became minimal. So many (youth especially) stopped bringing it to church.

And at such a moment the war began. A war that only sees actual fighting every few months or so. But in short, the battle usually begins as so: The minister asks, "who brought a bible with you to church this evening?" Those who brought their bible are those who are going to heaven. Those who did not bring their bible go to apostolic purgatory wherein the apostolic cannot get out of purgatory until one wins a game of "Who can find the bible verse the quickest in your bible?" The horror of it is apostolic purgatory doesn't have any actual bibles!

But dear reader, if push comes to shove, and your pass is being written for apostolic purgatory by the ministerial decrees, I ask you to start taking your cell phone out in church and act like the bible is on there. The way technology has advanced, the bible on cell-phone/iphone is a common assurance, so whether or not it is actually on there or not is unimportant. It's just all about keeping up with appearances. 

Lastly dear reader, if further push comes to shove, and the accusations are not relented, simply remind the minister that if we are truly apostolic (and thus supposed to live as the apostles), then it is not your (you as the layperson)  responsibility to read the bible during church. Rather, there is only supposed to be one copy of each book of the bible in the church, and the minister reads it out loud to the congregation. And then holdfast to this charge and remind the minister that the apostles constantly refer us to The Word as something we should be listening to (not reading). 

Friday, June 11, 2010

#162-Pasta Salad as the Russian Roulette of church...

Oh the joys of a post-church service fellowship! All the more joy if it's a BYODFMC (Bring your own dish for Mass Consumption)!

And ultimately 60% of these BYODFMC's will be various specimens of Pasta Salad. Some people may claim some vestiges of racism within our movement, but such accusations are foolishness, when one considers are open-armed acceptance of all forms of pasta salad. Color, kind of pasta used, and stench of the salad matter not to us. We love them all!

But as we make our way down the buffet of the entrees at the fellowship, the most important decision is that of which pasta salad we will choose to consume. While we welcome all races of pasta salad to the buffet line, it does not mean we will equally consider each pasta salad for consumption. I for instance am a sucker for a pasta salad with bacon in it.

But it is the decision of which pasta salad we choose that is integral to our health and well-being. In Let's Make a Deal, an old 70's gameshow, contestants were asked to choose one of three doors to determine the contestants prize (or lack thereof). While we have more of an opportunity to visually see which pasta salad we will choose, it makes no difference because all pasta salads look absolutely revolting. The dilemma is trying to decipher which pasta salad is the least revolting of the bunch. The only more revolting looking dish I can think of (and also a greater risk to our health) is that of coleslaw.

(WARNING: This will be the most vulgar paragraph you will read in SAL. Nor for the faint of heart):Because let's face it, roughly 40% of all pasta salads will make you sick in one way or another. The dressing that serves as the hydrating force behind the pasta is usually what makes or break a good salad pasta. It is also this same dressing which has been sitting out in a warm open air environment for hours, which will most likely throw your bowels into a tumultuous crisis whereby the goal of your digestive system is simply to regain control of that which has been lost to the poisonous dressing. And as a result of this struggle, your bowels will toss down the gauntlet of your intestines various unwanted textures of food that once was but will soon be not.

And it is inevitably the pasta salad that is to blame. We know it, but yet we can't stop eating it. Yes, along with Jesus-name baptism and various other essentials of our faith tradition, eating a pasta salad at a church social is obligatory for salvation. Of course we could avoid the threat of sickness from one of the pasta salads, but when we are scrambling through the line to discern which foods are to be chosen for our palette, we find ourselves under a strange dark shadow of persuasion and obligation to manually loft one of the pasta salads on our plate either via tongs or plastic fork.

And just like a game of Russian Roulette, we each choose our destiny and risk the possibility of sickness and death with this selection of pasta salad. There is usually something in the back of our head which says, "don't do it. you'll be sorry." But just like any other vice that makes it's way into our system, we ignore this voice of wisdom. And thus under the guise of obligation and peer pressure we pull the trigger and hope for the best, but expecting the worse.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

#161-Relevant Youth Pastors


To begin, that's a picture of the most popular target of "Is he or isn't he emergent?" One Mark Driscoll. And if you know anything about the man, or ever heard him speak or heard him try to rip Rob Bell to shreds, then you will know in fact that Driscoll is not emergent. 


But there is a bigger issue up for a discussion. One that has literally changed the movement in 6 years flat. The issue is that of THE RELEVANT YOUTH PASTOR.


In reality within the apostolic movement  means one thing: "I unapologetically wear jeans when I preach to the youth." 

Ultimately  it is the relevant youth pastor that brings in the latest trends of fashionable Christianity. Most of which revolves around designing really cool looking logos on adobe photoshop for the newest preaching series that youth pastor is talking on. But sometimes it also revolves around a fauxhawk, plastic bracelets, having a twitter, retweeting T.F. Tenny quotes, Toms shoes, and Rob Bell styled glasses:


But the deciding mark of how relevant your youth pastor is, is whether or not he has gone to or watched videos from from the Catalyst Conference (if you don't know what that is then you aren't relevant).


 The relevant youth pastor is the testament and reminder of the cliche: "While the methods may change, the message never does."

And thus the pastor of a church which has a relevant youth pastor can proudly declare that by having such a cutting edge minister on staff who wears jeans (which is completely hardcore), he is in fact keeping up with the times. And thus not as out of touch of reality as ye suppose.

But whatever...pawn or activist, the relevant youth pastor is a sign that fake is dead. And real is here.....or in other words: "we don't like the old culture, so we will call it fake. And build our own subjective culture which in it's very core has no more of a claim towards being "real" than that culture which preceded us."

And with this, the ultimate distinction of the younger generation and their leaders (the relevant youth pastors) and the older generation is the use of a whole plethora of buzz words including but not limited to: Real. Missional. Community. Relationship. Authentic. Emerging. Emergent.
Or perhaps as one author stated:
"We don’t have a clue what we mean by authenticity (or other similar buzz word), and even if we did, we wouldn’t know how to find it. That is, the quest for authenticity is a hoax—there is no such thing. Authenticity is an exclusionist notion, defined, by what it isn’t, not by what it is, and, for the most part, so-called authentic lifestyles are just as artificial and contrived as the rest of modern culture"

But it makes us think we are changing things. And that makes us feel good. So we'll roll with it. And in the process know that we are doing the right thing because a few older pastors in the area are getting mad at us....

As a favorite line from one of my favorite songs goes:

"Oh and we carried it all so well. As if we got a new position... oh and we own all the tools ourselves without the skills to make a show,,, with oh what useless tools ourselves."

For the record, I do not have a problem whatsoever with young ministers trying to relate more to the lost and the youth by being more "relevant" to such a culture. I have many favorite ministers who, had it not been for their accessibility through the comfort I felt about them being more like "me" than like "them," I probably would not be back in church to this day. Jeans to a youth service are not a bad thing at all, but I would hypothesize they, as miniscule of significance they seem to be provide an essential outlet for youth and others to be comfortable within a church setting...

What I fear is that this desire to "relate" has been manipulated by some to carry a tone of "superiority" with it. And thus what was done in the name of "lowering oneself" to relate more to others, becomes a pedastal by others to scorn other kinds of culture that may not be as "cutting edge" as theirs.

(Note: My mention of Mark Driscoll or TF Tenney in no way infers I am not a fan of either. I enjoy an occasional driscoll message. And as for Tenney....Well, I don't think there is anything that I could say that hasn't already been said in terms of the man's ridiculous amount of wisdom and those sick one-liners he has that knock you off your feet.)

Reminder: New comment policy. See post below. Mazel Tov!






Monday, June 7, 2010

Dirty Laundry and other things that need to be discussed if we plan on not destroying the world

video

Hey, guys if you get bored of the video here is the bottom line:

1. You will need to have a google ID to leave a comment. This means an end to anonymous comments. I am hoping our inference and reasoning skills make this painfully obvious why we are doing such things.

If you don't have a google account (if you have a blogspot or gmail account, you are good to go), you can make one here by clicking this link (it will literally take you two seconds).

New Comment Policy coming soon.

Here is the unofficial one (courtesy of Chantell):

1. Ad hominem attacks against the bloggers, other commenters, specific people or institutions will not be tolerated.

2. Comments problematically unrelated to the subject at hand will not be tolerated.

3. As the creator and main facilitator of the site, I reserve the right to delete any comments you deem inappropriate (although this will be very rare especially considering the new changes).

4. Harassment or repeated violation of the comment policy will result in the blocking of your google account from commenting on the blog.


Posts in the next two weeks may be few.

Lastly,

Please check in below! For the sake of hope that this works, just leave a comment under your google account name....Pretty please?....

Friday, June 4, 2010

#160-Pants

Chantell has previously covered pants from a women's perspective (more specifically pajama bottoms). I think it's high time to present the topic of pants from a man's perspective:

First off, when I realized pants have not been discussed on this blog, I immediately went into shock. And then I did what anyone would do in regards to the topic of pants amongst apostolics:

I thought of a parody. I quickly envisioned a rip off of the song  "Men in Black" by Will Smith, except the hook is changed to "Here comes the men in Paaaaants..."...but then I remembered I was lazy and I would also have to manipulate the verses as well. And then I would also have to make a video. That requires work. So I gave up. 

So if any youth pastor is looking to make their youth group famous on Youtube that thousands of Apostolics will end up watching, make the above video I referenced. And just send me a link to the finished product. I will put it on this blog, and the winds of the internet will do the rest as it gets forwarded in inboxes and posted on facebooks walls everywhere for the next 4 months. 

But enough fraternizing. Let's get down to the brass tacks of it all...

Here is a letter I just wrote to "Pants in full:"

To the pants of this world as a collective body,

What benevolence of grace you bestow in all your manor to us male apostolics who do not forsake you. No we apostolics males are not like the rest. While others will pay homage to you  when the centigrade is on the decline, and the earth's tilt is pointing away from the sun in the season of winter, we as apostolic warriors play by no such inconsistency in our wardrobe. 

We pay homage to you oh pants in the winter. We pay homage to you in the thick of summer while the very sweat of our brow cries for us to compromise like those pagans who wear shorts as they fall to the whims of emotional desire of "comfort." But is not "comfort" what Satan desires out of us? For surely once we are content in our comfort, we shall have our path paved to hell at the exact moment. So compromise be gone to the fiery depths from whence you came! Pants to you alone I declare my allegiance to....

Sure we may rid ourselves of your extensive leg lengths for a time when we are on vacation, but we swear we won't tell anyone and the pictures we post on facebook will all be from the waist-up. So have no fear pants, forever you will remain dear to me.

Your Servant,

JR

Dear reader, I will have you know that I was not born in the nude. But rather I came out of my mother's womb with pants around my legs! 

Okay but seriously, my nickname in middle school was "pants" because I played on the middle school basketball team in pants much to the confusion and distraction of the other team.

So know before we move on reader, know that I am not an infidel regarding pants, but rather one of your own....

The Issue
Now, pants is quite confusing topic in the apostolic ranks. I don't think anyone has made a contention that wearing pants instead of shorts is a biblical issue (although I have heard from a friend that says he once heard a minister claim that "girding up your loins" in the bible indicated the wearing of pants, but I have not heard this argument myself so I do not want make a statement about something I have only heard through the grapevine about).

Keep in mind that at least in my theology, an extrabiblical rule is in no way a bad thing. So I do not have a problem with a pastor saying "God has placed the conviction of pants on my heart and for this congregation." The pastor at such an instance is not claiming wearing shorts is a sin, but rather he, by faith is obeying what is in his heart ("for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" -Romans 14:23).

So it is with this kind of notion of pants in mind that when a church pastor goes from a pro-pants stance to a pro-choice (pants or shorts) stance, no one says a word in condemnation. I really think the beauty of pants is that it is the one issue in the apostolic ranks that once reversed draws no condemnation from neighboring pastors simply because of it's recognition as an extrabiblical issue. 

Aside: I am going to speculate that the issue is much more serious of a matter in parts of the South. I just know from my area that up here in my region in Michigan, there are only a few churches left that do not allow shorts (mine being one of them). 

The Origin

But my question is how did pants as necessity come about....and dear reader it is here I present my hypothesis (though this is entirely speculative)....

Venture with me back to the early days of oneness Pentecostalism....

As various theologies, decrees, and standards were being discussed as what will define the movement..

As the center of the debates is a ring of pastors who determine what is and what will be the defines our "Apostolic Identity" for generations to come.

This ring of pastors has a "test" church wherein one Pastor Smith installs the various "distinctions" to see their reception within the congregation....

The first Pastoral meeting after the installation of "no-make up, no cut hair, no pants for ladies, no jewelry" within Pastor Smith's congregation is where this hypothetical meeting takes place:

(All higher-ups are seated around a conference table, Pastor Smith stands up to report his findings).

Pastor Smith: Everyone was totally on board with the whole standards thing for the female. They see how holiness is a necessity that separates them from the world and in this separation is their witness to the world.

Board Member A: Excellent, let's move onto the next item on the agenda...Playing Cards: Are those kings and queens pictures of the demoniac? I personally.....(interrupted)

Pastor Smith: However, there was one problem, primarily a question from the ladies....

Board Member B: Go on...

Pastor Smith: Well, one lady pointed out that while the female gender is so blessed to have an opportunity to demonstrate holiness out in public, and thus be a witness, she couldn't help but feel so bad for the males who would seemingly not be able to demonstrate such separation because there were no distinctions for them. And thus she asked why should all the witnessing fun through separation by example be given to the females alone?

I tried assuring her that the inability to display a distinction amongst the world would be the cross that apostolic men would have to bear. And while the burden would be heavy to not have any distinctions to display, it would not be impossible. 

The lady then butted in with the urging of the women in the congregation: "we cannot let this be. We cannot let our brothers suffer here on earth by not having any distinctions. Surely there must be something....."

(the lady then looked at Pastor Smith up on down and her eyes focused on the shorts he was wearing on this hot summer July day)...

The lady then said (pointing to his shorts): "Pastor Smith, that's it. What could be a better witness of a separation from the world than you walking out into that sweltering heat in the downtown with pants on!"

(the ladies cheer)


Pastor Smith then said he would take this matter to the board.....

Pastor Smith (to the board): So team I sit here with you with a suggestion of how we as males may not be excluded from participating in holiness of dress....Why not rid ourselves of shorts? I know it's not quite the sacrifice that all those ladies go through in all those standards that we asked them to follow, but it's a start, right?

And besides, it will not be long when the feminist movement will rise in secular society, and Lord knows what they will make out this: "females follow standards, males don't have to follow any."...

So we mind as well install some kind of rule, just to say "you ladies aren't the only ones who got it bad....we have to wear pants!"

(The board members start looking at each other wondering if this will go over well)....

And one by one the board members each pitched their own view on the subject....Most of which revolved around the conclusion that it does stink that the females are hogging all the exterior holiness opportunities.

One minister then recanted that his wife said that she was strongly attracted to his calves. And thus he proposed that if men were to display their calves in wearing of shorts, men may be tempting the female.

And thus in a 9-2 Vote, the apostolic leaders elected to adopt pants as a rule for men....and forever here on earth we will be wearing something like these....


But dear reader, I have one more offer for you to make a decision with me this very day....

You see, here in the North, the ability to separate ourselves as men wearing pants instead of shorts as those in the world do, we only have 4-5 months to make this distinction. How my brethren am I to separate myself in my apparel from the world in the cold night of December and January when the whole world is partaking in the wearing of pants right along with us apostolics?

So I propose this dear readers....

Let us be yoked up with pants any time the temperature is 55 degrees or above as this will be a counter-culture sign of holiness.

And between the degrees of 40-55 degrees it's a "your call" choice of whether to wear shorts or pants. I suggest you do that which you think will be the harder thing.

But the new proposal dear reader revolves around this: Any time the temperature is below 40 degrees, we as apostolics take the wearing of shorts instead of pants. At such times, many will stop us dead in our tracks and demand to know why we are wearing such crazy clothing. 

And here once again, the apostolic within us can proudly declare that we are to be separate from the world, and thus holy unto God. And most likely that man will want to come to church with you.