Thursday, July 29, 2010


Credit for post suggestion goes to Cristen Horn whose origins are unknown.

There is no occasion I cherish more in life than that which is inexplicably bound by awkwardness. Just like a good rug can tie a room together, if awkwardness defines the occasion my eyes are fully open and I feel alive. The chaos and inescapably of a good wholesome awkward situation seems more lifelike than a formal ceremony or a birthday song for a toddler.

Foot-washing, outside of it's biblical context, is one of those rousing occasions which breeds the awkwardness I always seek to drink deeply from.

So naturally, if there is a foot-washing I catch wind of, I am there. Like the young adult who will travel to great lengths anytime their favorite evangelist is in state, or the 16 year old apostolic girl who secretly sneaks into the newest Twilight movie out in theaters for her "Edward fix," I get my awkward fix amidst buckets of hot water, scraggly towels, gender-segregated rooms and a whole lot of Man-ankle goodness.

One time someone asked me if God had a sense of humor, and upon deep reflection, I replied "yes" and pointed to his command for foot-washing as an example.

Because here's the deal:

There was a custom in Jesus' time wherein foot-washing by the servant was quite the commonplace. Feet had to be washed because feet got dirty because people walked with scandals or barefoot through the dirty streets. The people of Jesus' day didn't have the luxury to be able to take off their shoes the moment they walked into someone's door as to leave the dirt at the entrance. That was impossible. So the next best alternative was a good old-fashioned foot washing. Everyone knew what it was; even if you weren't religious.

So then Jesus throws everyone off by washing all his disciple's feet. He became the servant instead of the one looked up to. He leads them down instead of up ( i could feel all mushy inside if i keep on thinking about it).....

And the disciples are all like "Jesus, no!"

And Jesus is like "jokes on you kids....if you thought you knew what following me was all about, think again. Learn to get embarrassed for my sake."

And the disciples, at least as they are portrayed in Mark are genuinely ticked. They thought it was all about the up and up and Jesus is like, it's all about getting on your knees and washing stinky, grimy feet that smell bad.

but then here is the best part.....he kind of words his commands oddly enough to where you can't tell that when he tells the disciples to wash feet, he is talking to them alone or to everyone who reads scripture....

And that's the funny part....Because I can almost envision Jesus at this moment thinking 2000 years into the future when no one else in the Western World will be washing feet, but Christians themselves and he's just got this smirk on his face.....

Because what made sense as a symbolic act in Jesus' culture (foot-washing) had somehow been elevated to being a universal law separated completely from it's actual cultural significance.

But I am getting to far ahead of myself. The humor regarding us and foot-washing is how we view it. Do we seek the act as humiliating (because that was the point of it)? Well I guess if I had to do a foot washing in the public for all to see without expectation that it will be done back to me, then I guess foot washing serves it's purpose.

But this is where it starts to get comical....the way we set up foot-washing is more of the childhood notion "I'll do it if you do it."  In other words, no kid smokes his first joint or drinks his first beer alone. He commits his sin hand-in-hand with his brother as they take the plunge together. Similarly, we all only only commit to get on our knees and wash feet when we know that someone else will be doing it to us. Once again we are falling away from  "those who are last will be first" and running ourselves right back into a "tooth for a tooth, eye for an eye" Christianity.

So then there we are, as a church fulfilling the literal command to wash feet (and thus we are obeying God's word), but yet, in our commitment have severed ourselves from it having any cultural significance, and further have lost the principle behind the servitude because we are all doing it to one another.....

I can't help but get this image in my mind, where i sat in my classroom in fourth grade on the first day of class and the teacher had instructed us children to introduce ourselves to each child and give them two complements in the process. And the room quickly became filled with mummers of how nice someone's glasses were or how nice of a smile someone else had. And i can explicitly remember, "is this real?" Sure the complements were being given, and we were obeying the teacher but the actual sincerity was completely empty. I for one couldn't believe one single complement that came my way, and I didn't believe anything I said to others.

I don't think foot-washing is so empty in it's action whatsoever, and I do really struggle with the biblical command of foot-washing's place within our own culture, but we must ask if the foot-washing we partake in is what Jesus had in mind when he made the command? I honestly don't know, because i think there is a good explanation either way.

Get Serious
Okay, enough with the serious stuff....let's talk about the awkwardness.....

We all hate our feet for it is probably the least attractive part of our body (at least for men).....And when we hear about foot-washing, I don't cringe in thinking I have to touch someone's feet, but rather someone else will be staring right at my feet and it's own discrepancies. I'd prefer to wash the feet of 500 men before letting my monstrosity of a foot out to be seen. So I hurry home at such announcements and cover various foot errors with band-aids and pray that they don't fall off in the water....

And then what about how all the females go off in a different room from all the boys who may be tempted to stare at ankle or have a secret foot fetish. but does anyone else question that once the women go into their secret room they all just have a giant party and pretend like the foot washing is happening? Because we know that if men are grossed out by feet, women most likely vomit at their appearance? I mean the pastor doesn't go in the room so he can never know for sure what is going on....So if i am a lady and I have to do foot-washing, what makes more sense? DO the foot-washing and have a room filled with a lot of gagging at being too grossed out in the process or TELL people you did foot washing and arrange for a giant tea-party during that time? 

Okay so maybe my conspiracy theories needs some more testing....

And as I rewrote the last two paragraphs, maybe foot-washing is serving it's humiliating purpose.....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Apocalyptic

I was in a meeting with my Pastor, and he pointed out that some of the posts on the site did not line up with the purpose of the blog: "to remember to laugh at ourselves." In other words, some posts weren't laughing. And I agree. Most of the criticism about this blog describes us bloggers at nothing more than bitter and cynical. I can completely understand where this mentality comes from, and I know that if I were on their side of the fence I would come to much of the same conclusions. But that is not who we are. So it was with these questions in mind, I sought to describe a kind of theology for this blog that shows we are not just against some things, but rather do stand for things as well. In other words, I set out to find a theology for what is going on here (especially in regards to the more serious posts)....

The description is kind of lengthy, and I apologize. I also worry about its "accessibility" to the average reader. With that concern in mind, I am very interested in your critiques, insults, and comments regarding this...

So without further adieu, I give you "the apocalyptic" (this description will now be found at the top of the page next to the "about this blog" and "comment Policy" sections):

Much of the below was literally heisted from David Dark's book Everyday Apocalypse. In one brief swoop, the man put into words a working theology for what I have been trying to do on this blog, but really struggled with whether or not there was such a place in the Kingdom for what is going on here.

A lot of people will be confused about the term "Apocalyptic." But its usage originated from David Dark and likeminded people and it's derived from the Greek word which the word "apocalypse" also derived from. In short the term apocalyptic means a "disclosure" or a "revelation." But I don't mean this word in an "end times" sense.

In this disclosure, is the purpose of this blog. In short, apocalyptic aims to remind ourselves that we aren't what we make ourselves to be. It aims to create discomfort in our minds. It aims to destroy an egocentric Christianity. By egocentric Christianity, I mean this: A Christianity that advocates or allows for a pride within the human being in anything other than Jesus Christ (this means being proud of our denominational identity).

The apocalyptic doesn't like "cupcake endings" to movies where after a stormy conflict, the movie concludes with a perfect harmony and praise of the heroes of the film. Rather, it disdains such neatness, and instead seeks to "maximize the reality of human suffering and folly before daring a word of hope (Lest too light winning make the prize light). The hope has nowhere else to happen but the valley of the shadow of death." In other words, we see the world as complicated, complete with much suffering and confusion and imperfection. To simplify these observations into a "If God is for us, then who can be against us" mentality forces our focus yet again on ourselves (which can encourage pride) and away from the brokenness of the world and its hunger for salvation."

In other words, the apocalyptic is opposed to a Hallmark Christianity which is summarized by simple catch phrases, mental ascents of truth, and repeats of the same few verses over and over again, which are usually taken out of context. The apocalyptic does not enjoy the status quo and the complacency the status quo entails. To define "status quo" in our denomination, I would say is any viewpoint that says Acts 2:38 is a satisfactory explanation of Christianity, and thus once one receives the Holy Ghost, they are "good enough."

The apocalyptic opposes the tendency within Christianity to view the world as a place only fit for burning and argues against the idea that our time on earth is merely a waiting room to the sweet eternity after. Rather, the apocalyptic encourages a holy separation but also necessitates constant interaction with the world so as to imitate the incarnation wherein the King became a mere man amongst prostitutes and tax collectors so as to show just how much He Loved His Creation, and just how low he would go to have it back.

The apocalyptic seeks to destroy the notion that the revelation of Christ is simply synonymous with simply trying your best to not do certain sins, and should the opportunity arise, mention to a stranger that you would like them to go to church with you.

The apocalyptic wars against the view of Jesus as a phantom friend who absolves us of our guilt feelings, loves Americans the most, and promises to take our souls to a faraway place when we die, just so long as we follow Acts 2:38. Rather the apocalyptic sees the incarnation (God manifested as man) transcending formulas and guilt and rather sees a bigger redemption process at work. A process that goes far beyond the understanding of the limited human mind. For the moment a mind claims to see all, they have reached the Holy Mountain of God and claimed to have the same eyes of God. This is blasphemy.

The opinions of one who claims to "know" and seems to have the market on how things should happen can now claim their thoughts are equivalent to the thoughts of God. The Sadduceess and Pharisees each thought they knew God through their knowledge of His Word. But in this knowledge, they were blinded and could not even recognize God when He came down for a visit, and further because of this blinding knowledge and their religion constructed out of human hands (which they thought was God's Truth), they murdered God when He was right there in front of them.

The apocalyptic at its core looks to Jesus as suffering servant as an invitation for the entire world to take part no matter how much scum or sin appears in their life, wherein a "world-denying religion" is an escapist routine that limits the possibility of God's grace reaching the lowest of the world (since we are the vehicles of His grace). In other words, the apocalyptic worries that we as Apostolics are so obsessed with a separation from God's creation, that we have segregated ourselves from the world at-large so much so that we have no frame of reference with the world, and thus God's redeeming grace can not be given through us to the world since the world cannot understand our language and culture which can at times be out of touch with reality. In other words, let us be careful to not lose touch with reality in our strivings to separation from the world.

At the same time the apocalyptic is always looking to the world and its art for messages of grace and redemption. Man's God-given creativity is not bound by his Chosen ones alone. We are all dying humans and nothing more without Christ. We look everywhere for God's grace, even in the most obscure parts of society and culture. Perhaps we might even learn something in the process.

In short as Jean Bethke Elshtain says, "we are not perched on top of the earth as sovereigns; rather, we are invited into companionship with the earth as the torn and paradoxical creatures that we are."

With this simple fact in mind, we need to constantly take a breath and remember to not take ourselves as Apostolic too seriously.We are not above humanity, rather we are just like the next guy/girl seeped in the tragic comedy that defines the human being.

I suggest if there is any place to go as followers of Christ here on earth, it is to try and become more human, and not less.

Thusly, we need to allow and even promote a place for comedy within our denomination so as to remember to not only look at the world through a withdrawn window of seclusion but also to look at ourselves in the mirror right in front of us. The purpose of such comedy is to provide momentary relief from the seriousness of the status quo and the official.

If we do not allow for the crack of introspective humor into our movement at this moment then we shall soon ascend to the seat of the easily offended religions of the past whose reputation in the world is "simply counting the bad words on television, the sexual innuendos in worldly songs, and walking away in a loud well-publicized huff...For once we are in the seat of offendedness, we are in a real tricky spot. Before we know it, it can become a twenty four hour a day job. It becomes all we're known for and when we're all caught up in all the things we're against, we forget the beauty of the things we are supposed to be for. We forget what the kingdom of God looks like and all the wonderfully odd characters taking up residence there. We forget to revel in dappled things. We forget we're dappled."

Before a summary, I think a Flannery O'Connor quote serves us well here, but revised slightly by me... "There was a kind of sociological bubble created in which Apostolics live when we cannot bear to be a part of what was going on around us. From this bubble we can see out and judge, but in it we are safe from any kind of penetration from the world. It is the only place where we feel free from the general idiocy of our fellows." The apocalyptic will not tolerate such a function in light of Christ's lowering unto death on the cross.

In short, the apocalyptic doesn't do well with the Christ that could fit in a Disney movie. It much prefers the kind of Christ that if put in a movie, sees himself killed by the bad guys at the end of the movie, but as even He's getting killed he is pleading for their forgiveness because "they know not what they do." (Note once again that the persecuting Jews "thought" they knew and thus had the grounds to crucify).

Monday, July 26, 2010

#176 - Black Evangelism

If your initial response to this blog title is : "What?" Then we're probably on the same page. But let me explain this interesting phenomenon.

I remember walking in to a UPCI General Conference and hearing about Black Evangelism for the first time. I almost choked. Then I was indignant. And then I fell over laughing. It's like racism wrapped up in a package of shiny good intentions. But the unsaid assumption is - if you're Black, you're not like the rest of us - us being the White majority.

Evidently Black people require different tactics of evangelism and forms of understanding and relating to Christianity than do say, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, Caucasians, Hawaiian & Pacific Islanders and any mixture of the above. Because evidently, even if you live in the same city with a Black person (which would be why you'd be sharing the Message with them right?), they probably won't understand you and thus need a whole separate division of evangelism. It seems that being raised in the same areas, attending the same schools, engaging in the same pop culture and being otherwise intertwined, there are some inherent differences that must be addressed. In fact, we need to attend seminars and create divisions so that we can understand you and reach you better.

Because clearly Jesus was White, had blue eyes, no beard and spoke King James English. And even though a lot of Black people have been in the United States far longer than some of the recent White immigrants, White people still don't understand Black people because of their skin color. Because the skin color equals some radically different American subculture that I have trouble communicating with. I think it has to do with those baggy jeans and that rap music. Who understands all that shouting? Maybe we should take a class from Eminem so as to better understand how to communicate effectively. Or from all those suburban White kids who jump on iTunes and download the most recent albums and drive the sales for the Rap/Hip-Hop scene and have made it a hugely profitable enterprise. Maybe they'll be able to translate the Gospel for us.

Wait. Isn't Pentecostal/Apostolic culture largely defined by the loud preaching and call and response type of worship? A style that came from the African American community? As a matter of fact, Black Gospel has become synonymous with Apo/Penny culture - I've even heard people say that it's just more anointed than that Contemporary/Charismatic music. As a matter of fact, purchase any UPCI Bible College album and there will be a recycled version of at least one Black Gospel song. Maybe Mark Yandris, Kevin Howrd and Aaron Sheilds could host workshops, not on music, but instead on how to effectively use Black Gospel music as a means of effective evangelism. But let's not get off on another tangent.

I have a question, do Black people need a White evangelism course in order to be able to share Jesus with them? I mean, I understand language barriers and the need for specialized training for different cultures. But Black evangelism? Seriously? Maybe we should expand this idea to evangelize different economic classes as well? We could have a Upper Class Evangelism department, an Upper Middle Class, Middle Class, Lower MIddle, Low, and Poverty. Because I'm sure we can't truly understand and communicate with each other because we all aren't exactly the same. Makes you wonder how those mixed race couples ever managed to communicate effectively enough to get down the aisle and say "I do."

I would posit that Black Evangelism comes from a deep seated form of racism that promotes the idea of "other" and says that White is normal and anything other than that is not. Highlighting someone's skin color for evangelism is unhelpful, it marginalizes and is oppressive - to the point of prohibiting evangelism.

Should organizations that are made up of largely Black constituents have a White Evangelism division or do you just expect them to know how to have a conversation with a White person. Because that's really what it boils down to. Sharing the Gospel is simply a conversation with another human being. Our humanity connects us. Jesus died for a humankind. And unless we cannot communicate, I do not understand the need for a specialized division to highlight the fact that our skin colors differ. Because my Savior's skin was probably dark brown and in spite of that, I've managed to get the point without too much of a problem.

In an ironic twist, I've had the Gospel Mix on my iTunes shuffling as I typed this. I understood everything almost perfectly.

Friday, July 23, 2010

#175-Not Victoria's Secret

So I haven't had a girlfriend for almost 4 years now. And there is one main reason: I can't stand for that awkward moment when walking in a mall and walking past a Victoria's Secret store with your girlfriend.  How do you act when giant 8 feet cut outs of models  in Victoria's Secret's window displays are seductively staring at you implying that you can have them via your girlfriend/wife looking like them when they buy the lingerie within? Do you put your head down and walk briskly on by as if those women mean nothing to you? Sure that's the right response, but it also implies a repressed lust you have that if you were to take a peak you couldn't contain yourself? Or do you take a quick peak as if to show you are not afraid of what is before you and then by not having a reaction outside of a possible laugh you show the temptation is for naught as you will not be swayed by such consumerist propoganda because all desired beauty is found in the one you are with (which may or may not be a misleading statement)? Do you look rather and make a comment of scorn and shame at what is coming of this age?

What happens when the gf asks that dreadful question, are those models prettier than me? It is for such a crisis that I opt to not go to malls with prospective mates.

But for the aposotlic the question is not about a potential dating crisis. It's much more of one of morality. Malls are one of 2 safe places for apostolic youths to hang out these days. They devil house (movie theater) and the sporting event idolizing men and not God are dirty no no's (but they both come with  a "shhhh, don't ask don't tell theology as well).

So us youth are left to the mall, restaurant, and in some circles the bowling alley. And considering the Apostolic infatuation with fashion and materialism, malls serve us well. Except for that demonic store of Victoria's Secret. Definitely a conflicting paradox that we more often than not choose to ignore.

I know of one Apostolic apologist who in her books has gone so far as to denounce shopping at Victoria's Secret if you are unmarried because when an apostolic girl wears such lingerie she feels a sense of sexuality which is not healthy. Likewise thongs are painted demonic as well for the same reason (even if no one sees the thong, a girl feels all "sexy" inside when it's worn). I find such a stance fascinating, but refrain from further comment.

I also would like to mention Victoria's Secret is responsible for one of the great material ironies of our day and age. They have introduced a clothing line (that are not necessarily immodest) called "PINK" but in this brand name, many of the clothes are not actually Pink in color, but rather are various colors and all have the word "PINK" written loudly on them. I stand confused everytime I see this.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

#174 - Using Forms of Address That Don't Make Sense to Non-Apo's

Walk in to a Pentecostal church on Sunday morning and I guarantee you'll hear the following: "Praise the Lord, brother/sister!" To the already initiated and cultural native, the response is second nature. To the uninitiated, not so much. If you showed up late and are worried that you might have missed out on the greeting, don't worry because someone with a microphone will inevitably shout it out to the congregation. It's how we like to say hello.

Now there are cultural differences, if you show up at an Apostolic Assembly even, they'll shout back 'amen.' This was very confusing for me because in UPCI circles we like to shout back 'praise the Lord!' In other words, "you do it first." Still, it's never quite as awkward for those of us raised among the Apo/Penny movement as when a visitor shows up. Although it is slightly embarrassing to have loudly responded 'praise the Lord,' when everyone else has said 'amen'.

Typically there's at least one person at a service who is oblivious to the rest of the world and the fact that their cultural norms are not universal and so they'll walk up to a visitor and say: "praise the Lord!" Meanwhile, the visitor gets a completely confused look on their face and smiles blankly while trying to get away from the weird person as quickly as possible while the person who has invited them tries to play it off as a funny eccentricity that's not universal. Which works until Brother so and so gets the mic to welcome the congregation. And says - wait for it, "Praise the Lord, church!" It's so common that we've even got text speak for it when we're on facebook, twitter, texting etc., and it's immediately understandable to all of us: PTL!

Also, walk inside the four walls of a Pentecostal gathering and all of the sudden everyone becomes Brother and Sister - unless you're younger than the person talking to you. Then for some reason it's okay for them to call you by your first name. Unless you're a minister. Why? Because there is a hierarchy attached to the title. Because it is just that - a title (although we call Jesus by his first name, heaven forbid we should call an elder by her/his). And if you don't call someone older than you by their title, they get upset because it's disrespectful (really?). But that's a topic that could fill an entire post on its own, so I'll leave it alone. But the fact remains that the whole brother/sister thing sounds Catholic or Amish, depending on who is using the moniker.

When it gets better though is when we're out in public and the trifecta happens: Public place, church greeting and title - Praise the Lord Brother/Sister! I feel like bells should go off - "we've got a winner, folks!"

Now I've got a question: what would it look like if we actually followed through with the request? I've been tempted - I'm thinking it'd be hilarious if we actually did it. The possibilities are endless, not to mention awesome.

And so I have another question: Why can't we just say hello (insert name here)? Or welcome. Or hey, it's great to see you! I'm sure the fact that I cringe a little bit every time someone says brother or sister is a bit of an overreaction, but come on people, it is 2010.

And yes, I know they used it in the scripture somewhere. But they also did some other stuff that's weird that we don't do. Greet a brother with a holy kiss anyone?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

#173-Altar Confessions

Note: This is one of two posts today that I have written in order to make up for my total lack of contribution last week. This one is more serious. The one below this post is more light.

The Altar confession is a mainstay during apostolic altar calls everywhere. It occurs through two different modes.

The Altar Confession through Altar Invite.

The first one is the most popular, but also can be the most awkward. In short, it occurs as the preacher is at the tale-end of his sermon and the entire congregation is standing in anticipation of either the altar call that is to come or the fact that the altar call represents the last step until the restaurant in hopes of eye contact with their crush. At the time of the altar-call, instead of just an open invite, the preacher nuances the issue by making the altar call dependent on a certain sin/negative behavioral attitude. So those who are initially invited are those who are guilty of said sin or attitude.

This creates many a conundrum for the congregation member. Firstly, there is a stand-off in terms of whether or not to hurry the church process up and charge with full speed to the altar no matter if one is guilty of said sin that is being called for, or on the other hand refrain from confessing guilt about called sin, and stand indifferent in your pew, and in the mean time delay the church dismissal even longer because you know by the end of the day, everyone will have to find their way to the altar somehow for a dismissal to occur as dismissals occur when the the altar call has been deemed successful, which means full congregation participation.

Further, if one is to exit their pew/seat for the altar at such a confessional altar call, they are admitting to the purveying eyes of the entire congregation that they are the sinner mentioned. In other words, they are giving into the old adage, "find out as much gossip as possible about everyone else in church, but give nothing out about your own sins. This way you can judge all and be judged by none." If one is guilty of the called sin and doesn't go up at the immediate call, will their sins be any less forgiven?

But alas dear reader, I humbly suggest that we commit an overthrow of this whole process. The only way we will win the "Judge many, be judged by none" battle is by simply confessing guilt to each and every sin that is inquired upon within the church. If the altar call is for amputating limbs of innocent porcelain dolls, be the first to the altar! Be judged. Is the altar call for an adulterer? Be the first to the altar! Not washing your hands after a bathroom break? Sprint like no ones business up to the altar. Is the altar accusation for those who are listening to too much Miley Cyrus and watching the same three movies about day vampires who are horrible actors too much? Race to the altar even if you have never heard a Miley Cyrus song to date nor watched a single Twilight movie. Is the altar call for those who judge too much? Yet again confess through a race to the altar...

But why you ask? What is the better embodiment of the cross at work? Is the cross about standing above everyone and gazing at the sinfulness of everyone except themselves? And thus further enter a process of self-congratulations for not being a sinner like the others? Or is it about the lowering where upon God himself took on all our sins on his shoulders (everyone of which he did not commit) and died because of them? Thusly, the only way out of this game of judging many and being judged by none is the confess to all and further accept the truth that you are a sinner in your core and a dying human at best, and only through Christ are we anything above this fact. Further, dear reader (if you are still with me), by us being the first to the altar for confessing a sin (even if we did not commit it), we encourage others who may be too hesitant to come up to the altar in fear of judgment but badly need the help and grace that awaits them at the altar.

Okay, sorry for that rant...

Altar Confession Through Hand Raising at the Altar with all heads bowed and eyes closed.

The second type of altar confession, which is seemingly more popular, is the confession amidst the altar call wherein the preacher yet again describes a specific sin or negative mentality that is present within certain constituents of the congregation and the preacher then asks for the whole congregation to close their eyes and bow their head and then for those who know they are guilty of such sin to raise their hand as a confession of the guilt and a signal in faith that they want the Lord to help them. Thus the added advantage to this kind of confession is the fact that the likelihood of drawing the purveying eye of the rest of the congregation to be judged by them is greatly decreased (and usually draws more confessors). Of course, many Apostolics can probably recall times in their life when somehow they were drawn squint their eyes ever so slightly as to see if they could make out who may be confessing to an awkward sin or two around them (as have I done so a few times much to my regret).

Another facet of this kind of confession is in the fact that many preachers fail to clarify when the head bowing, eyes closing is concluded. Thus one is left to continually repeat in their heads after a time of hand confession "is it okay to look now?" The agony of this confusion can be great. However, with persistence and boldness we can overcome this dilemma by simply using common sense to evaluate when the confession process is done. And if we tragically lift our heads and eye lids to find us still in the middle of the confession process, quickly retreat back to head bent position and feel bad that you may have identified one or two sin confessors. And then just to alleviate the guilt raise your own hand in the guilt process to put yourself amongst the rest.

Last Note:

I was in a discussion a couple weeks back with a fellow peer about the utility of confession. I was proposing that because the Catholics have made the "confession" such a trademark of their faith, we have unjustifiably removed the concept of confession altogether within the church which is sad since the idea of confession is not a Catholic one (although its practical interpretation may be). Of course we have the "altar confessions" mentioned above, but when James 5:16 says "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" I have a hard time believing a trip up to the altar or a hand raised without anyone else looking qualifies as this kind of confession. Yet surely the verse is not optional, it is a command. To not have a practical outlet to have confession not only violates scripture but it also allows for a bigger dilemma within the church body wherein if people don't confess their sins one to another and thus forgo the whole awesome confessional process, not only is a "humbling" process forsaken that would come through the confession (and also a time to face the regret of the sin that would come from confession that may not exist in confession to God alone), but also the Body of Christ is removed from one of its awesome privileges and that being the ability to uplift and assist in reconciling the other believers towards Christ. If we go about our walk with God alone, we become self reliant, which is disastrous, because in such a position we can too easily confuse our own opinions and views as those of God Himself and if we can't overcome certain sins in our own self, we have negated the possibility of overcoming the sin through the help of fellow brothers or sisters.

Of course the downfall is that, the reason for our hesitation, to be honest and open about our sins is the fear of being judged. Which is of course is sad, but in part is a result of the fact that we didn't have openness in confession in the first place. And thus our sins became our own business, and the moment we sniff the sins of another, we ascend higher above them and judged them for their weirdness of the sin, because hearing of another sin from a brother has become foreign to us (and also along the way we have gotten so used to our own sins and not airing them out we forget that strangeness of our own sins).

I guess the question is: is confession possible in this day and age where egocentrism and self-identity is at an all-time high (especially in a capitalistic, democratic society where the emphasis of power is put on the individual above a collective identity)? If it is, how do we implement it? I do think the newer rise in popularity of having accountability partners is a step in the right direction, but what else can we do?

#172-Doing Everything We Can to Wear Clothing We Shouldn’t.

Note: I provided this picture in hopes that youth pastors everywhere will use this picture in youth services as proof that in some places "in the world" modesty standards are mandatory as well  as proof of the necessity of standards in our midst.

For perhaps the fourth or fifth time, Stephany Mirelez has recommended this post. My sister recommended it to me months and months ago but because I could care less what ladies are wearing (except in extreme circumstances), I hadn't noticed the epidemic whatsoever and assumed that my little sister was just cleaning the skeletons out of her own closet in some kind of weird pseudo-therapy of confession through blog post recommendation. But alas I have noticed the trend of this post suggestion here and there, and Stephany's own suggestion of it cemented this post's place amongst the gauntlet of subpar blog posts about things that really are about nothing.

So what do we mean  by "doing everything we can to wear clothing we shouldn't?"

Well to quote Stephany, "By this I mean, wearing a ¾-length-sleeved black shirt under a bright-colored strapless dress. And wearing a white long-sleeved shirt under a low-cut tank top. Or under a shirt that was meant to be backless."

In other words, some apostolic girls like dressing like Jezebel, but to not be faulted they wear "under-shirts" that cover the immodest places on the body that would have been left bare had they chosen to wear their "outer-garments"with their designer intended purpose of showing skin and being "suggestive."

In other words, apostolic girls go into their Forever 21's, their H & M's, their GAPS,  and whatever other  consumerist identity-killing store girls like shopping at, and see a blouse or dress they really like and say to their friends "awwwww look how cute this looks." Their friend then says, "yeah, but too bad it's immodest and you could never wear it." The first girl then sits and reflects and says "why do all the girls in the world get to wear all the good clothes? Apostolics should be able to be beautiful too!" The second girl agrees and then they lurch throughout the rest of the store looking for either an undershirt that will cover the "would-be exposed" part of the body, or simply try to find a matching jacket that when actually worn is more akin to jacket for a midget with long arms than being an actual jacket:

Because of the trend described in this post, the entire "short-jacket" industry is made possible by apostolic buyers like you.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Notes about yesterday...

Alright, so the power at my house was taken away by the gods of wrath and discomfort two days ago in a storm. This would explain my absence in the comment section of the previous post about homeschooling.  And I am now using my friend's computer, of which I have only a few minutes to use it. There is a comment policy up which I assume many of you have seen. One of them says comments will be allowed as long as they are not "ad hominem" personal attacks. Thusly, argue about the content, not the identity of the one leaving the comment. To participate in ad hominem attacks does nothing but make ourselves feel better at the cost of angering and offending and verbally abusing those who we are arguing against.

That said, doing a quick scan of the comment section of the previous blog I saw a few that either bordered on being ad hominem, or were deliberately ad hominem. This is not acceptable. I will do a more thorough read of the comments and delete as necessary when I get a chance to do so either tomorrow or Monday.  However, this does not account for my inability to properly assess the comments in real time. I apologize. I really had no idea things were getting out of hand as they did. But at the same time, the conversation has been fascinating and has brought up valid points from each side of the argument that I have never considered before, and thus in spite of the evils we have seen, I do believe the good of the conversation outweighs the negative.

In the next two weeks, I am not sure how much computer access I will have because I am housesitting without a computer. However, I am also low on motivation for writing good posts. So if you have any good post recommendations be sure to email me, and if it makes me excited enough I will run up to the library and post it.

Also, look for an explanation of a theoretical "theology" I am working out that better explains the views of the posters of the site.

I love you all. Be warm and merry, and be of good cheer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#171-Home Schooling (and other ways I began to confuse redemption for an escape)

When I was growing up I was shoved into the local public school system without a second thought. I was left to the wolves as they would shove evolution down my throat before I could even see above the counter at McDonald's. The system would also tell me where babies came from and mention the fluids involved before I knew how to say "three" properly (I always said "free"). If I was caught mentioning Christ or praying over my food, I would be invited to attend after school detention wherein I had to write on a notebook piece of paper over and over again "I will not use the alleged names of deities in the sky in common discussion amongst my friends, nor in prayer to myself."

Okay, so I kind of exaggerated the above. Actually I exaggerated all of it. Public School was nothing stressful. The closest my Christianity clashed with public education was when my Mom didn't want me to read Wrinkle in Time because it contained witches as characters and talked about mysterious "New Age stuff." So the teacher let me read Adventures of Tom Sawyer instead (I won that one!). However, years later I found out Wrinkle in Time was in fact a Christian book by a Christian author.

So as I was guided into the maze and confusion of public school where identity is at a premium, because you don't feel like you have one. The days were long, life was hard. Most tragic was that other kids continually wet their pants and watched Power Rangers (which I hated). In my loss of self-identity in the public school system, I lashed out and told anyone who was willing to listen how in the great future, we won't need parents or teachers because everyone knows that robots are more useful and cheaper than live adults.

But, there was one aspect of schooling that always struck me in the raw. It was that when I went to church, I had a few friends who would tell me about their days of playing at parks, and going roller blading in the middle of the sunny day. Happy Meals were not the exception but the rule for lunch. "How... but how?" I would ask...

They would answer: "homeschool."

Homeschool was another word for "I only have to do work 3 hours a day" and then I get to do whatever I want when I want.

I cursed the gods. My whole desire in life at that time was to be a pirate. And here are these kids who have the time and freedom to build their own pirate ship out of legos that they could one day ride into the sea because they had a 13 hour play day every day.

But, there was a disadvantage of the home schooler as well... As they did their PACEs and watched their video lectures in their own little box of isolated life, I was facing the glorious imperfections of the world on a daily basis and enjoy learning its ways.

While I admired the leisure of the homeschooler, it was my homeschooling peers who would come to in order to uncover the latest "swear" I had learned in school, or hip lingo. While my church friends would watch McGee & Me, or Gerber, I was spending the night at my friend's house from school to watch Ace Ventura Pet Detective or Tommy Boy.

And thus our lives were at a stand still. The grass was greener on the other side for both of us. I wanted the free time to be a pirate, and my friends wanted to face life and world in the raw.

But the divide, as it played out over time got wider and weirder. Once puberty hit, the difference between the appearance of the public schooling Christian and the home schooled Christian was akin to the difference between Chimp and man. The home schoolers were dressing like their Dad because that was the only clothing style they had observed. I was dressing myself according to the cultural trends at the time en masse (I looking more like the ape).

Pilgram's Progress was read by the Homeschoolers. I was reading the vulgarities of Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye.

On Halloween they were having a Harvest Party. On Halloween I was wearing a Bill Clinton mask and bringing home pillow cases full of candy that will probably give me cancer when I become old.

But the personality of a home schooler was the most unique aspect...

As far as I can tell, the homeschooled child is the neatest and most organized genre of people I have ever met. And likewise, the chaos of public school brings no organization other than the embrace that there is no such thing as organization.

The Ethics of Homeschooling

The question is dear reader, which path is the correct way? Or as I would argue it, which is the better way to define holiness as a society?

Is holiness a complete separation and isolation from the world to which it disdains? And the only path into the world is for a quick grab and go back home happy meal?

Or is holiness a separation from the world and then a re-entry into the world descending into's depths trying to recover what it may in the process?

Obviously my answer is biased. I have seen the homeschooled run into trouble once they graduated and went to college where upon they were not prepared for the plight and chaos of academia and all it's vices. I have seen homeschoolers thrive in such an environment as well, being a living testament to the incarnation while not losing any of their core values.

On the other end, I went through the public school system and when I left for college, I had seen enough of the world to make me want a full buffet of it, and left church for a period. Likewise, I have seen some very confident individuals go to public school and arrive at college without a concern or temptation to fall because they had grown so strong in their convictions amidst the chaos.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

#170-The Altar Showdown

The altar showdown is a phenomena within Pentecostal churches mostly observed in one's formative teenage years. The altar showdown is simply this: A competition between two or more individuals at the altar to which the winner of the competition is he/she who prayed the longest and/or who prayed the hardest.

Thus the participants of this altar showdown are judged by two different categories: Length and Effort.

And this altar showdown dominates the reason teenagers are seen praying at the altar for a time period longer than ten minutes.

The goal of this competition is simple: Garner enough attention from the church superiors in your persistence to pray with exuberance and length to try to assert yourself as a candidate to be a future youth pastor/minister's wife.

It is not that God is not being felt. Because He is. And it is not the case that every time a teenager prays long that it is for the purpose of the Showdown, but the fact is it is not that the forces of the altar showdown are non-existent.

SO if you are an altar showdown contestant, how does one evaluate who is winning/losing the competition?

First, the most useful tool is the squinting eye. The squinting eye sees all. And it sees its competition square in the face. Lord help he who possesses the squinting eye that sees it's competition sobbing a tsunami. The fact that one's eye is checking on it's competition while the competition is so focused on prayer that a flood is being produced via tear ducts almost cements the victory to the crier.

No doubt he who cries is signaling to the superiors how much effort and concentration they are putting into the prayer. In evolutionary psychology, a crying baby is the epitome of signaling much cost/effort in producing tears and screams in the baby and thus forces the baby's caretakers to direct their attention to the baby and try to relieve the baby's outburst through relief of whatever it needs (e.g. food, diaper change, attention).

I hypothesize that he/she who cries at the altar is in some forms doing much the same. When he/she is seen crying, and all the effort it takes to produce such a sight (including possible ridicule after service from peers regarding the emotions displayed), the superiors are forced to take note that this person is dead serious about God, and they want to preach some day or marry a dude who is going to preach some day. Of course I am oversimplifying the issue, but I can assure you that such dynamics regarding emotions displayed at the altar do take place amongst the youth.

Most youths want to get prayed for. Most youths think they are going through a lot. Most youths think their life is hard and their parents just don't understand them. It is the altar that youths seek to gather the attention that they think they deserve and when attention is given to them, it also means less attention is given to the competitor in the altar showdown. I can remember I had one friend in the youth group who was just the most frustrating altar showdown competitor ever. He was practically undefeated in altar showdowns. He cried like none other and could dance at first note of a song that will have a cool drum beat. And of course he got the most attention at the altar from elders and other adults. Most superiors don't like taking the effort and time to pray a youth to breakthrough in prayer. Rather it is much easier to pray for the person who is already in the midst of a breakthrough. Less effort, but it also shows that you care about the youth of our day. Anyways this friend was always winning the altar showdowns by showing the most response in his prayers emotionally. SO Adults would flock around him while I was left squinting my eyes praying quietly to myself with half hearted prayers wishing the prophet/pastor would prophesy for me to be a minister in the future (whereas this prophesy was constantly said over my friend).

But it was also this same friend who had no ethic whatsoever. He was the first one of my small group friends to make out with a girl, smoke pot, buy music CD's with parental advisory warnings on them (Metallica, Limp Bizkit, Korn), steal video games (from me!), wear baggy jeans, and also have chains hanging out of his pants. He was really really cool. So in short, the emotionalism that saw him win countless altar showdowns also saw him having no gravity towards an ethic of any kind.

The altar showdowns are most vicious at church camps/conventions. There, the adult superior onlookers are usually more powerful per capita than at the home church, and thus bonus points if one garners the attention of a big time speaker to pray for them. There is also the dynamic at camp/convention wherein God himself is considered a superior who is waiting to see who will pray to Him longest/hardest and thus to such a victor God offers a Word of prophesy to him/her about some glorified future in "The Ministry."

I haven't taken place in an altar showdown in years because of all the yuckiness that I finally realized was going on in my own heart (I was praying to be seen by men, not by God when I was at the altar). But I will say, the counter-action at the altar to producing a competitive altar showdown amongst friends is the hug prayer amongst friends. It's when a group of guys or girls go up to the altar and silently agree to not enter into an altar showdown with each other and thus all have their arms wrapped around each other in a semi-circle. The group cohesion assures that there won't be a defector to try to gather their own independent attention from adults. It also is like saying "let's take this week off" since the prayers more often than not are not effort based.

Lastly, I must make the comparison between the group prayer to that of the Cold War rivalry between USSR and the USA. Both sides knew that if one attacked the other, both would end up in a war with millions of deaths. Thusly, one of the reasons the Cold War never developed into a real war was because of something Called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Thusly, youths at times enter into a kind of group prayer with a Mutually Assured Destruction in mind should an altar showdown occur because those involved since each have the persistence to stay at that altar for a long period and each can squirt some tears in the process.....

Once again, realize this post is sociological in it's analysis and in no way discrediting the God-man relationship during these showdowns.

Friday, July 9, 2010

#169-Not Bachelor Parties

Okay, this one is really short (and thus I will aim at two entries in two days)...

For the past several weeks a friend and I have been trying to plan a bachelor party for an apostolic friend, before he plunges into that abyss of matrimony and getting mad at umpires at t-ball games.

And I will tell you this....Of all of the things I have done, and all the things I have seen, planning an apostolic bachelor party is one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.

It would have been easier for the UPC to disallow any attempt at planning apostolic bachelor parties, and thus I would have been freed from my labors and I would have found just one more thing to rant against in the UPC manual for my own self-approval.

What Apostolic bachelor parties come down to is this: Combine what you do after a Sunday Night church service (go out to eat) with what you do for a youth group activity (bowling alley, putt-putt golf, play mafia). And there you have it folks: An Apostolic Bachelor Party.

No Wonder, apostolics get married so early in life...They are continually haunted by the reality that weekends when not married are filled with acoustic guitars, tears in prayer because you feel bad about going to the movie theater, glow-in the dark bowling alleys, and declarations that "it's not about rules, it's about relationships."

As I even wrote that last line, I am tempted to run up to the court and offer a painting and 7 dollars for anyone who wants to marry me and thusly be willing to sit in a pew three times a week, consider themselves heaven-bound for the rest of their life, secretly complain about things and people we don't like about the church but never be proactive about changing anything and thus secretly get more and more bitter, and also find a great excuse to watch Glen Beck on a TV that is two inches bigger than the neighbors' television.

And then as I wrote that last line, I realized why I haven't gotten married.

Bottom Line: The point of bachelor parties is to celebrate a man's last day of independence and thusly are supposed to partake in behaviors and "dirty no no's" that will not be permissible past the wedding day.

There is not one thing an apostolic cannot do after he is married that he could do before, and thus the value of a bachelor party zero. There is no independent vice to celebrate before the wedding, because what is forbidden after marriage was forbidden pre-wedding as well amidst apostolics. (Source AH).

Thusly, I must conclude that Apostolic Bachelor Parties are the physical manifestation of purgatory on earth.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

#168-King James Version-Part 3

The above painting by Ford Madox Brown of Jesus Washing Peter's Feet is one of those rare paintings that brings anguish and grief when you look at it long enough. I don't know about you, but I find myself immediately taking the position of Peter in this picture, and all I can do is cringe. Can you imagine the embarrassment of having He, the Son of Man, washing your feet?

The image is absolutely absurd. It makes no sense. It defies logic. He is the King, I am the servant. And yet, Matthew 20:28 tells us the King did not come to be served, but rather He came to serve.

And thus I cringe.

So what does this have to do with the KJV? Everything.

The most common answer of why we don't allow the reading of other translations in church is that "we don't want to offend" the older generation since they have grown up with that translation.

Ah, yes. The "I don't have a problem with you doing ___________, but i just know that it will offend the older crowd" card.

How wonderful! It makes so much sense...

And in the process offend my generation and those younger right into a death march out of the church because we were too stubborn in keeping the admittedly unessential traditions of men of the past in our church as to not offend the older crowd!

In other words, we're worried that we raised the older generation on some false legs, and instead of attempting to show the beauty in genuine diversity to them, and get rid of those bad legs, we'll keep as is...

And so we are raised to believe in the great ascension that we say defines Christianity. Serve those who are above you and came before you. And when you ascend levels of authority, or grow old, then you will be served too... Ah what a glorious and convenient hierarchical model. Everything's on the up and up.

"Come up little children to us. And when we die, I promise you, there will be new children to come up to you."

"Learn to understand our culture and Bible of old, and you too will be exalted one day."

But is this the story of Christ? Did not God descend from the highest of heights and manifested himself in the form of sinful man?

And to which men did Christ reach to? The religious elite and rich of the day or the forgotten sons and daughters without a home?

Where is the example of servitude in such a model?

Now I am not suggesting that the older generation get down on its knees and wash the feet of the younger generation per se. I am just simply saying, this is a critical time right now for our movement, and my generation is waist deep in pride and confusion.

If the elders stay stubborn in unnecessary formalities and demand a KJV only church, then we most likely will arrive at a stalemate that sees my generation forfeit the message outright and look elsewhere to a community that allows the NLT to be preached over the pulpit for instance.

But rather, what I am talking about here is that maybe we could choose to be the lesser and thus suck up whatever discomfort we may feel in our close attachments to some of these tradition of elders for instance, and lead by example of how we won't let personal preference get in the way in letting the Gospel go down to the level of whatever state the young people are at.

Now, elder brethren, you may be scorning what I have suggested. But let me add one more thing:

My peers and I are dying. I can drag this out for many years to come (and I will), but most of my other peers are either staying alive because they have found a sense of community in their youth group (and thus their spiritual walk is defined by a social circle and time at the altar ), or just simply have lost their passion flat cold. We need a recitation (and I swear it's not because we're just openly rebellious). And I am merely hypothesizing that a little more servitude (or even horizontal communication) may be the trick instead of being talked down to from the heavens, where upon our only way to spiritual liberty is by climbing a mountain.

Note that while I used the KJV as an example above, the implications are far broader. And no, I am not Emergent. And no, I am not talking compromise either.

Okay, I had to get that out of my system...

Now let's get to the KJV more specifically...

In Part 2 of the series we saw how much more accurate newer translations can be (over and again the KJV whose manuscript availability was minimal).

But that won't be enough.

In our quest for certainty, we want to know we have the Word of God in its absolute form. Forgetting that we don't have one copy of any of the original versions of the Bible as they were written in Greek (or Hebrew if it was an OT book). The Bible wasn't written in English, but yet we insist there should be one true translation of the Word of God, failing to recognize that language is constantly and always changing. (Look no further than I Corinthians 4:4, where "I know nothing by myself" is written in the KJV (which made sense in the 17th century, but really means something completely to us than what Paul is trying to express) but more properly should be worded in our language as "I know nothing against myself."

But yet many want us to go to the museum of the language of the KJV and excavate all its linguistic confusion, in order to approach the Word of God...

We want to formalize Christianity into a vault of untouchable absolutes, failing to realize the absolute power of the KJV is but a result of the culture of the 1600's, whose own culture was nothing sacred.

I could go on a lot more about the intricacies of the KJV and its shortcomings, but I don't want to confuse the reader out of faith in the Word of God itself, for I certainly believe the KJV is infallible. I believe it inspired. I just don't believe it any more or less inspired than other more recent translations.

It may seem irreverent that someone even dare suggest the Word of God be changed for modern times to make it more readable, but you have come to the argument of the Roman Catholics who refused to let the Latin Vulgate be translated into any other vulgar language. Especially the English language, which at the time was considered the language of barbarians. I imagine the argument went something like that when the Bible was written into that poorman's English: the Word of God lost its beauty and poetry.

But what about the Koine Greek that the NT was written in? The language itself was nothing formally spectacular. Rather, it was rather common and simplistic compared to the formal Greek of the philosophers and educated. But yet here is the language that Jesus is choosing to initially reveal himself in. If you can stomach this concept, you can stomach a more common Bible translation instead of the KJV.

In this regard, the Word of God is in some sense, irreverent. It does not seek to speak in reverence the language of the elite, but rather seeks to be understood by all. It doesn't seek to be translated as to awe academia (though some parts do indeed do this), but rather desires to be comprehended by all man, and thus in each man's own tongue (Except for the book of Romans. No one understands that book).

If we cannot grasp this concept, then we are like the Israelites who conceived of their Messiah as only a Royal Earthly King. Of course the real Messiah was killed for his inability to live up to these expectations. Their idea of a King was one they should serve in all His majesty, but they couldn't listen for a split second to a King who would serve them and sit in the house of a prostitute or tax collector.

The Jews taught Religious Piety and serving the tradition of elders (Mark 7) as the way to God's favor. Jesus' way to God's favor was way lower than that. A descent of sorts to the feet of a lying man (Peter). And even further to be hung on that tree.

A note on preferred translation

The question of good translations boils down to this: Paraphrase or formal equivalence?

Do we go for the emotional impact of the what the author in the Bible is trying to convey (and thus allow for more artistic liberty in the translation), even though important phrases or words may be omitted from the text or do we try to go for a word for word translation with the Greek as much as possible, even though many times the emotion of the text is loss, and we can be left with a Bible composed of a dry and distant dialect?

The Message is the quintessential paraphrased text. The Greek-English Interlinear Bible is as close as we get to a "word for word translation." (trust me, a literal word for word translation into English would be incomprehensible).

Between the Formal equivalence and the center are the KJV, RSV, NASB (even more conservative than the KJV), NKJV, NRSV.

In the middle are your NIV's, NLT's (though left of the NIV), CEV, NCV.

In the paraphrased is the Message and the Living Bible.

With this variety in mind (as each translation attempts to measure meaning, intent and style of the text differently), I am a big advocate of a triangular method of Bible reading.

Basically, I have one-two from each category: (NASB/NRSV for the Formal Equivalence, NIV for a moderate reading, and then the Message for the Paraphrase). When I am trying to fully digest a certain book of the Bible or a chapter, I am sure to read the passage from each category (formal equivalence, moderate, paraphrase). This way I don't restrict my understanding of a chapter/book to what one translation was describing. Further, the triangular method allows me to hone in on a proper meaning (it's usually in between the 3), and lastly and most beneficially, I find the different translations bring out different subtleties in the text that I would have completely missed in my devotion had I stuck to one translation.

In conclusion of these 3 parts, know one thing:

"Read your Bible, pray every day, and you'll grow."
-traditional hymnal


Saturday, July 3, 2010

#168-King James Version-Part 2

Note: This post is one of my longest to date. I apologize. Know that below is a history of the biblical translation process up to the KJV. I do think it is important that we have a historical context of how we got our Bible, and so I encourage a reading of what is presented here, and further research on your own. We must realize the Bible did not fall out of the sky at any point in history. There is a context with everything, and so it is with the KJV Bible. If you do not have the patience to read the entire post, just be sure to read the two paragraphs in bold towards the end of this post.

Earlier this week I briefly got into my hypothesis that the Apostolic infatuation with the KJV is not necessarily an affinity of the King James Version itself, but rather the Apostolic crush on the KJV is more wrought out of a desire for certainty in having a specific translation represent the Word of God, and thus concern over the use of this word or that word in the Bible can be thrown out the window, if indeed an entire version of the Bible is inspired. Today I go into a brief history of the KJV, and hopefully demonstrate further how problematic it is to hold up this translation above that of others.

"We learn from history that we do not learn from history." -Hegel

Basically, as Greek culture (Hellenism) became less and less prominent in the centuries after Jesus' death, Greek stopped becoming the lingua franca of civilization. The popularity of Greek during the New Testament times (all of the New Testament books with possibly the exception of Matthew were written in Greek), gave way to the vulgar tongue of Latin. Latin being the language of the common man.

So what were people to do with the loss of the use of Greek language concerning the Greek New Testament? Surely Greek was the inspired language of God since that was the language the Bible was written in. Surely then, to translate the Bible in any language other than Greek would be blasphemous. The Word of God was written in Greek, and if it is to stay inspired, keep the Bible in the Greek and if people want to understand the Word of God as it's meant to be read, ask the one who hungers after the Word to pray for a divine "unveiling" wherein the Spirit makes the Greek understandable to the foreigner. Further, why not have the minister study to understand the Greek, since the Bible was not intended to be written or read in Latin?

Of course this point was raised, but thankfully people didn't listen.

Rather, people started translating the Bible into Latin, except no one knew what in good heavens they were doing in those early centuries A.D., since no one was exactly sure what the Bible consisted of entirely. Basically, people started translating the Bible into "old Latin" however they wanted, and manuscripts (ancient handwritten copies all over the Bible) were flying all over the place. Some of the copiers and editors of these manuscripts were bound by a philosophy to keep the text sacred. Others felt it was necessary to change some details to rid the Bible of contradictions. Some added notes in the margins of the manuscripts that found their way in later copies of that manuscripts. Some of the copiers were extremely well educated on properly copying manuscripts, but certainly not all.

Further, ALL of the people translating the Bible at this point were using the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) as their base for the Latin versions of the Bible. They thought the Septuagint inspired, and thus stayed away from the Masoretic text, which was basically the Old Testament in its original Hebrew. Lastly these versions of the "old Latin Bible" started translating themselves. Instead of going to early Greek copies of the Bible to translate, people just started making copies of those already flawed Latin translations which just exacerbated the problem.

And the newly formed Roman Catholic Church was all like confused about all this Bible confusion. When people said "Bible" everyone was like, "which one?" because there were so many versions in Latin.

So the Pope was like, "Yo, Christians, we gots to get a good Latin Bible up in the hizzy that we can all stand behind...."

And he found this guy named Jerome who told him, "Enough with this foolishness. I'm about to peace all this inconsistent junk out, and bring a real good Latin translation up in here."

And the Pope was all about that and he gave Jerome money.

So Jerome started making his own Latin translation which relied heavily on the Masoretic Text (the Hebrew Old Testament) instead of the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament)...although the Septuagint was consulted from time to time as Jerome was not fluent in Hebrew. And then he got as many reliable Greek manuscripts he could find and translated the New Testament.

When the Bible was done, the Catholic Church was like "That's mine!"

And so it was. And the Bible became known as the Latin Vulgate (meaning the Common Latin Version).

And basically from for 1100 years, the Latin Vulgate was The Bible (400-1530 A.D.). Literally, it was the only thing quoted from by ministers. The Catholic Church considered it perfect, and since it was the only authorized version of the Bible, you couldn't contest its accuracy with "lesser" versions of the Bible. The Latin Vulgate was more authoritative than the early Greek Manuscripts.

If you were a foreign minister, whose native tongue was not Latin, you were still required to learn Latin to be able to read the Bible, since somehow, Latin became associated with this divine language, and thus instead of making the Bible available to the common man, the Catholics made the common man conform to the language of the Bible. Prayers were not supposed to be offered up in a native tongue, but rather in Latin (and thus short confessional prayers became the norm).

Do you see what is going on here? Let's rewind....The Bible was originally translated into Latin in order to reach the common man so he could understand the Word of God. And then the Catholic Church took what was originally a good thing and ripped the Bible from the hands of the common man and made the Latin Vulgate beyond touchable. Most importantly, the Bible was not allowed to be translated into any other language. If you spoke English, but did not have resources to learn Latin, then you had no way of ever reading the Bible.

So some dude, who has one of the sweetest names ever: Desiderius Erasmus was like "Aw man, somethings not right! The Bible wasn't even written in Latin, it was written in Greek....So how in the World is the Vatican abouts to make the Latin Version of the Bible more Holy than the original language of the New Testament (aka "How in the world are English ministers going to make the King James Version of the Bible more important than the original language of the New Testament, and not dare try to learn that original language?")

So Erasmus and a bunch of other sweet people were like, "yo, ad fontes" which meant "back to the sources." So Erasmus and these other sweet people (known as Humanists) started paying attention to Greek culture of old again, and the philosophers of that time (e.g. Plato, Socrates, etc...). So, Erasmus started comparing the Latin Vulgate with the seven Greek manuscripts he had available (although these Greek manuscripts were relatively late), and saw many, many problems between the two, and was like, "Yo if we gonna use the Bible any more it mine as well be the Greek, because this Latin Vulgate gots some messiness to it."

So Erasmus set out to do what would become one of the most monumental acts in Christian history, and which also served as one of the driving forces to starting up the reformation....He write a New Testament Translation into Greek which was a no no. Since he did not have one single complete New Testament manuscript in Greek, he used 7-8 of those partial Greek manuscripts of the New Testament to rewrite the N.T. in its original language (mind you that these 7-8 were each flawed in their own way). He really got into trouble in the book of Revelation, where at parts he did not have any access to Greek versions of the book (since it was hotly contested whether Revelation should be included in the Bible or not, this was not a surprise.) So Erasmus, when he had no Greek counterpart in the manuscripts for the verses in Revelation, he went to the flawed manuscript which he went to overthrow: The Latin Vulgate.....

So Erasmus, who did a very laudable thing by translating the Bible back into Greek, by no means had the best resources available (according to today's standards) to translate the Bible into Greek. He made do with what he had in terms of Greek Manuscripts, but the bottom line is there were parts definitely found wanting in his translation. Ultimately, the Greek translation Erasmus made and the subsequent edits of that Greek translation became known as the Textus Receptus (from here on referred to TR).

Why is the TR important? Because it opened the floodgates. Martin Luther was like, "Yo we need to make a Bible into German" (which was still a no no). William Tyndale was like "Yo we need to make a Bible into English" (which was still a no no).

So all these dudes were saying the Bible should not be left in the hands of the religious elite, but with the addition of the printing press (which for the first time allowed copying of literature without the need for handwriting), these dudes were like "the Bible should be for everyone." Thus the beauty of what happened was that the Bible was no longer something that needed to be approached as it stood in its formal state as the Latin Vulgate. Rather it was now being brought low to be able to be accessed by the common man in his own native tongue (assuming you could read as illiteracy was still a very severe problem back then).

Is this not the Cross incarnated? For the story of Christ was Him being brought low in order that all may freely approach Him no matter or race, ethnicity, or economic status. And so too, the Bible was now being translated to the point where anyone could access it freely without regard to whether or not they were a part of the religious elite.

For the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Christianity is not meant to be the religion of the elite. It is the religion which descends to the lowest depths of society and makes new men out of sinners. We must not forget this. We must not be a movement that finds the only people who have access to Christianity are those Christian elites themselves, who in their own anointing ascend to the heights of institutionalized Christianity and come down to the lay person to tell them what Christianity really is. If this is the case, then we have gone way of the Roman Catholic Church.

Sorry about that rant, I got sidetracked. Let's pick up the story where it left off: Eventually, King James wanted his own version of the Bible because he was paranoid that the most popular English version of the Bible, the Geneva Bible encouraged rebellion against Kings. And thus King James commissioned The King James Version which was based off this same textus receptus that Erasmus wrote as well as the existing English translations of the Bible. Its intentions were still for the English to be able to access it, but it was not without an agenda. Eventually in the 1700's, the KJV took over the Bishop's Bible and the Geneva Bible as the most popular English translation.

However, as alluded to in the last post, the KJV was not done being edited when it came out in 1611. It went through several edits along the way (and by several, I mean many). But it was not until the 1930's or so that the KJV gained its steam in reputation. Despite its popularity before this time, few argued its superiority over other English translations. But running parallel to modernism (which praised the advancement of man in his quest in science and industry), fundamentalism grew as well as it said what we have in the Bible is sufficient and perfect (it dually worked against the Pentecostalism of the day which emphasized Spirit over knowledge) and thus anything outside the Bible was not to be believed. And thus like the Roman Catholics did with the Latin Vulgate, fundamentalists sought for a proper, singular translation of the Bible to exalt above the rest to put all their faith in. And the KJV was ripe for the job.

So what's the problem about all of this? Why not the KJV? Well as mentioned above, the Textus Receptus which the KJV was based on, was derived from 7-8 relatively late Greek manuscripts. It was good for Erasmus then, but what about now? Well now we have found thousands of Greek manuscripts of the Bible, many of which predate the Greek manuscripts that Erasmus used by several centuries. We also have the Dead Sea Scrolls which give us very early insight into the Hebrew Bible that was around the time of Jesus. Before the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are either from the century before Jesus or at the same time of Jesus, the next earliest versions of the Hebrew Bible were some 800 to 900 years later! What does this mean? With these new manuscript findings from the past two centuries, we can get closer and closer to the original inspired version of the Bible (since the manuscripts are more numerous now and many of which were written earlier than the manuscripts of Erasmus) and relieve ourselves of much of the pain of copying errors of scribes through the centuries.

Most of the modern translations that come out now zero in on the new information revealed in these manuscripts in order to arrive at a more accurate translation of the Bible. This is why some people will point to the deletion of certain terms, phrases and verses in the new translations compared to the KJV as evidence that the new translations water down the Bible and purposefully rid themselves of problematic verses. But there are reasons for these omissions of terms, phrases, and verses in the Bible: We don't find them in the earlier manuscripts, meaning what we see in the KJV and not in the other translations were most likely added by scribes later on in the Bible copying process! Of course there is always the possibility that we may find the early manuscripts that do indeed possess the words that are in the KJV, but we have yet to find those, so we must make Bible translations based off the manuscripts we do have. We cannot follow certain KJV terms/phrases objectively from an argument of silence saying in faith that we may end up finding those manuscripts that possess those terms/phrases in the Bible later on. We must go on the information we do have available.

In closing, consider in this overly simplified history of the KJV, where do we get a whiff of its superiority over against other English translations of the Bible?

This article will be completed on Tuesday or Wednesday which analyzes the logic of the KJVites, and looks to it's accuracy in comparison with those "heretical" translations.