Tuesday, October 5, 2010

#197-Us Against Them

This is so uncalled for.

Sometimes you watch videos on Youtube. Most of the time these things are junk. In this junk, there can be found precious junk. The following video is an example of such an instance. You may have already seen it. Either way, you need to see this. (Note: the man in the video is a famous illusionist and also a staunch skeptic/atheist who openly opposes any sign of faith and to say the least is not a fan of Christianity, Also the video is 5 minutes long with a story, but if you want to get to the heart of the video, start at the 3 minute mark).

Don't close your eyes....

(Note, the man did not convert in this video. He was just trying to make a point of logic).

When I watch this video, I wonder if I even believe in God (and now you know where those days of doubt I talked about come from). I think I do believe in God. I feel Him. In the darkest of nights He is there when I can see nothing.

But that video. I reeled for months when I saw it. I haven't saved a soul. Not even tempted to save a soul. When God comes up to an unsaved friend, I talk about my beliefs. But I do it in such a deplorable tone, as if I am obligated to promote God. I don't want to burden them. If they don't think they need God, who am I to tell them otherwise?

That video had my soul shivering in a blanket in a spiritual quiver when I first saw it. If I wasn't actively trying to save people, did this mean I didn't believe?

Why am I not urgent about the lost soul? Just one lost soul. Anything to show that atheist that I am a good Christian too.

Show your youth group the video. Do not try to soften the blow. If they haven't saved a soul, they should shiver if they are honest. I can give them a blanket.

But then I still feel God? Surely He can't approve of my apathy towards the decrepit state of the lost soul?

No, I do feel God. I am not to blame for my lack of sensitivity and heartlessness. 

This is not my fault. I am perfect. I approve of myself first and foremost. Before all else, I agree with myself. I am a modern day Job, blameless. I have truth! I am also decked out in boils that I will have to scrape off of my body with sharp pieces of wood chips. 

Therefore after much deliberation and soul searching, I have come to a conclusion: Something else is to blame.
I will need friends. A company gathered on a thin raft. We are all equally equal in our approval of ourselves, and transversely approve of each other. 

We are liberals and emergents.[1]

Us liberals gather in a self-justifying fury. We have prayed to God. Read many books. Even read the scriptures. We have read the scriptures that we were told we shouldn't be focusing on. We have focused on those. 

We have come to conclusions! Verdicts. Decisions. We have charges which we are bringing before the court in front of an impartial jury. Our plight is not our fault. The fact that most of us save no one. This is not our fault. Someone must be blamed. We are valiant soldiers, who don't like praying at the altar for longer than seven minutes (fifteen minutes if the preacher is a big name).

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we prosecute them! 

The conservatives. The traditions.

It is they who have made us so disillusioned in our spirituality. And we have facts to prove it. And Charts. Someone should know.

Exhibit A (Chart on who is to blame)

Okay, so what if "we are bad tempered prom queen at a homecoming dance?" 

Bitter? Who isn't bitter anymore? Everyone's bitter. I eat bitter for breakfast. It's part of our appeal. It's the 21st century. We must have a platform of spite. It breeds efficiency and presence in a building.

Exhibit B: Let's discuss more facts: Everything the conservatives talk about has to do with circumcision. That's my first point. Whatever the conservatives say. The verses they show you, the jury. Know that secretly, it's all got to do with circumcision. Show us I Corinthians 11 and we'll say circumcision. Doesn't really make sense does it? Paul wrote both: The book about circumcision and I Corinthians 11. But that's just a minor issue. Forget about it. It is still all about circumcision.

Exhibit C: More facts. Solid facts. 

  • Movie theaters? They won't let us go. We want to go. So we say: IMAX!. We win.
  • They say no jewelry. We want to wear jewelery. So we say: Broaches and expensive watches. We Win!
  • They say no shorts. We definitely want shorts. So we say: Skirts that show the calves of the female leg. We win! 

Check mate. Landslide victory. Indisputable facts. Now you see why we are so bitter and worldly? Not our fault. We are innocent. Conservatives are the guilty party.

Okay, so maybe those arguments are repetitive and simplistic (Note to liberals: Guys, we should really be getting better arguments. I remember saying these same things when I was 15).

More importantly though, we come bearing good news. Very good news. Because we are impressive. 

Here is the good news: 
  • Don't Judge. 
  • Mercy. 
  • Grace
Except for conservatives. They are to be judged. And in our judgment they are limited to God's grace and mercy. Because their traditions form a force field deflecting God's grace.

Hypocritical? Yes. But which hypocritical side is to be preferred? Us or them? Us of course, we dress better. Know us. 

(Brief break to finish watching Jersey Shore. Because liberals are allowed this freedom. Do you see how fun we are?)

You want an image don't you? We are the distorted feedback in their ancient sound monitors from the 80's which the conservo's preach so eloquently through. You cannot be Apostolic without weird noises coming through your sound system now and again. We are those weird noises. Be us.

We are the more attractive, less dramatic, more entitled little brother

Big brother is scary. He has quite an identity too. Interests and stuff. But he is struggling too. In his own way. Teenage angst because things are not going as planned. (this is where I want you understand that "Big brother" is an individual analogy for "them" within our movement. Thus I will now refer to the brother as "them" for sake of clarity). 

They says it is not his fault. They have done things the right way. Kept the Lord's statutes. They will leave church cards with the tip at a restaurant. They care. They are expecting revival. They revival has not come. They will wait longer. Endure for the Kingdom's sake. Something must be done in the mean time. This is not their fault. They blame us. The innocent liberals. They are the more mature. If something is broken in the house, and we are blaming each other, Daddy will believe them because they are older. Older age means better perception. They form councils. 

Miraculous powers. They have read the scriptures. Some of them at least. They focus on different verses than us.

They also have the center stage. This is important. They run conferences. They are a formal institution. This is an advantage.

They allegations they bring against us, we plead guilty. Though we are innocent in our guilt. Spare us the guillotine please.

Although we would also like to point out that a lot of them have a television. Put that down in the record. Also mention that the liberals consider themselves orphans and paupers. This will get us the sympathy vote. We have requests too…

The Compromise of 2011

They owe us. It’s not like they would be better off without us. That would be ludicrous to think. We are the testimonies they caution their youth groups about. They tell them how they know us personally. Beware of us. But that’s an advantage. Because, we are real. We are not as invisible as the devil. So we are a tangible, current, and an identifiable demographic. This bodes well for everyone

Our first request is that you just send us your preaching tapes about us. Who doesn’t like hearing about themselves? Send the tapes U.P.S. preferably. That’s all we ask.

And one other thing….

We primarily want an award ceremony acknowledgement. Here is what the award should be called:

“The lifetime achievement award for giving us weekends full of material to preach against, conduct seminars in the name of, meet at Starbucks to talk about, and all in all just get all red faced about.”

The award will be announced and the best part about us is that we have faces.

And the award goes to… “The Emergents.”

And we’ll stand and wave to the crowd and smile big, “Here we are….” (We do that weird half turn where we pivot at our names because the seats limit us from being able to rotate in a full circle. And then our hair is nicely combed and we are doing that one waive where our hand pivots on our wrist.)

Thank you cards will not do. No, this needs to be public. We swear to you our cannibalism will be restrained for this one evening. You will not find any blood on our tuxedo (scout’s honor). We’ll even shake your hand and ask you how the kids are.

Fluff and acknowledgement is all the liberals are asking for. Because we are extraordinary, witty, bright blossoming roses (wear gloves so the thorns to prick you).

We should call the award ceremony a gala. No one does galas anymore. We need to have a gala.

Do you not see what this is all about? We need affirmation. That’s what it all comes down to. As for us, we have been affirming you older brother since the day we were born. Just affirm me. Affirm us. A gala would be perfect. We wouldn’t have to make a speech, though we would not be opposed. We are full of Gettysburg Addresses that would move you to tears. It’s not about standards. NO! We love standards. Because it gives us something to blame. A platform that allows us to be opposed to something which in turn give you something to be opposed to. It’s the Apostolic Circle of Life. This is pride rock. And we are all getting famous in the process. Just give us our due.

The Severe Dealings We Hand Out for the Love of God

The reality is we are all just children. Big and little brother. Dead serious children. More like toddlers. Seriously, people talk about how innocent children are. But it’s because their cognitive development has restricted them on how to use weapons properly. If they knew how to access & use sharp knives, 3 year olds would kill many 2 year olds. This is scientifically proven. Children have a very limited moral compass.

I am a ruthless child who just got hit in the eye with a snowball when I was just trying to make snow angels. You didn’t think snow angels could be so dangerous did you?

So we argue. I tell you, you’re ugly. And uncool. No one likes you because you have pimples on your face.

You say the parents weren’t intending to have me. I was an accident.

I mention that all of our neighbors think you are a freak because you act weird at church. Always overdressed.

You  remind me that I still wet my bed on occasion.

I begin plotting in my head.

I push you.

You will tear out my hair.

I will scratch your face with my fingernails.

If only I knew your twitter password. I would post a tweet with a swear word on it, or say you are optimistic about the Obama Administration or something. Something like that.

We’d do all of this. Escalation! Arms race. The ante always being upped.

Okay let’s call a truce. Just for a few minutes. Play a video game or something. Just a few minutes to catch our breath. Until one of us loses. You will probably lose because you were never good at video games. You will throw the controller at my face. You didn’t think that this lamp was so lightweight did you? Yes! Now I am wielding it as a weapon “BACK OFF!” You just rolled over that toy chest to demonstrate your anger. You are making such a mess. Although, I didn’t know you had that strength in you. That chest had a low center of gravity.

Look at you. Look at me. Look at us. We are such viscous children. We are brothers for God’s sake. We should not be doing this. Daddy, come tell us to shake hands. You can spank us if you have to. Something that gets the point across. So we can actually start caring about stuff that really matters. Like watch youtube videos.

And somewhere, in the deep recessess of your soul...In a place that you only have time to acknowledge in the most beautiful of solitudes, assuming your heart is not completely dried up, you ask yourself, "Is this what Jesus was about? Is this what the Cross was for? Is this the Gospel? And you think about that God-man hanging there with the thorny crown. The blood dripping down. The weakness. The 39 back lashings. Being denied by those closest to him...the "My God My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" All of it....the misery...for what?

Why did he do it?

For this? The finger-pointing? Those sermons? Those lost friendships?...

Don't get me wrong, I"m not above this. I'm in the middle of it. Throwing mud. But there comes those moments, you know where times slows down, and you kind of are able to get a bird's eye view of what you look like and what all of the fighting looks like....And how stupid and pathetic it is....All the conferences we have speaking against the others....I just had one of those moments...I'm sure it will end soon enough, but while i'm here, looking at us dressed up in suits saying nasty things about each other, how wreckless and infantile this all is...

Daddy Daddy, please show up. Spank us hard. Make us cry and go to bed. And we will pray too and tell you we are sorry.

So when we wake up, and are sitting quietly at the breakfast table, and I catch you glancing at me with those mischievous eyes, I will stick my tongue at you. Then you'll tell mom. Mom will threaten to call dad at work. She won't do it. You will flick your cereal at me with a spoon. And then we will argue about how it was the other one's fault that we got spanked in the first place....

I swear I will present my case how what happened in the fight was the fault of the Conservatives. It was something one of the preachers said at General Conference over the weekend. I am right. I am A bright birthday candle standing tall in a cemetery of decaying tombstones.


[1] I would like to emphasize that my use of “emergents” is used solely as a literary device and think the term reductionist and ridiculous. Especially since I have yet to meet one person who identifies themselves with the “emergent movement.” I couldn’t even begin to define what the term means in terms of theological beliefs and I dare say most attempts by either side to define the term within our movement have been quite pitiful. Rodney Shaw seems to be a notable exception in our movement who is doing a decent job trying to form a summation of what emergent theology looks like. Everything else I have seen by us is a giant straw man. 


  1. I almost got the chills reading this.

    I know you interjected comedy in it, but it's so real life that it's ... well, chilling.

    Thanks for yet again another great read.

  2. I guess I've been trying to figure out where all this animosity is coming from.
    I don't necessarily participate in the political wranglings (and yes, they are political, as much as they are spiritual and financial) of our beloved church organization, and I'm finding myself a little less than thrilled. Is it really that there's a cancer called "emergent" in our movement, or are we looking to have a scapegoat for our own guilt?
    Penn's video is spot-on. And that bugs me.
    How many people in our beloved church group have actually taken the time to be proactively "Christian" (i.e., Christ-like)? And when they are, are they doing it out of social peer pressure to do so, or are they truly exhibiting God's love?
    Too much to cohesively express in a few simple words. But the point is: Are we doing ANYTHING to make the world around us (whether our families, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, our community) a place that knows that Jesus is REAL and that He paid a price for our sin? Or are we just waiting for someone else to do it so that we can analyze how they did it?

  3. In this fight who is Cain and who is Able??


  4. i actually saw that youtube video for the first time last year, then showed it to my youth group! and all my siblings! but yeah, i like how you likened "the fight" to sibling rivalry. spot on metaphor that is. and that pie chart made me lol ("lack of hair angels"...lol...)

  5. I don't know if Joel will let this stay (if not I apologize bro), but I'd like to make mention of something. I watched Scott Graham's message from General Conference and heard a little bit about Wayne Huntley's. Scott Graham preached the same message he's been preaching for about 3 years now; "hold onto the old...don't abandon what got you here...something something something dark side..."
    After hearing that and some key quotes from Huntey's sermon I was sick. At BOTH sides. And like Joel said, I've been in the thick of it. If you looked at my Facebook a year ago you'd see. numerous status' hurling bombs at "them". I did it so much so that I got defriended by a few people, including a person in leadership at my own church. (She thinks I didn't notice)
    The bottom line is exactly what Joel was saying. How much "us vs. them" is there going to be before we finally see some unity?
    The right is making the same claims, over and over, and the left thinks that their arguments are new or unique and neither side is using any sort of logic. I've heard people make asinine statements like "Our church dropped standards and grew so fast!" as a justification for why they're doing what they're doing. And they cite blogs like these and people like Joel as justification.
    We CAN'T STAND IT when those kinds of people use our arguments and reasoning as their reason for "believing" what they "believe".
    I can't stand anyone who doesn't read, and that goes for liberal AND conservative. But the overwhelming majority of talking heads don't. They don't read. They don't study. They just sit in coffee shops, lobbies and churches and hurl these toddler like arguments, each side saying something more extreme, JUST to win the argument.
    Huntley's statement at GC reminded me of two 6 year old kids arguing about whose dad is stronger, with one saying "My dad is stronger than superman!"
    He doesn't even realize what he said. He just sees the liberals making big claims so he's going to make a bigger one. If he really believes what he said then he believes that everyone who is not a oneness pentecostal is going to hell, and I don't believe he'd really ever say that. He just made a big blanket statement to up the ante of the public discourse.

    But we're all doing that! We're all just sitting around seeing who will say the most profound, extreme thing, causing the other side to gasp and come up with something weirder.

    You can condemn me or preach at me, but I've joined the ranks of those who step back and watch this as an outsider, and the whole thing looks a lot smaller out here. When you're "in" it it feels like a war. There are sides, there are things at stake. There are family names, legacies, castles and celebrity to be had.
    But from out here it looks like a bunch of little kids in a sand box. The red ranger versus the green ranger. The pot versus the kettle.

    I think we should do what Jon Stewart is doing in Washington. Let's have a movement to restore sanity. I believe about the movement like Stewart does about America. There is about 2% extreme on the left, 2% extreme on the right and they are spewing FIRE at one another. But there's about 96% in the middle who don't care. They just want to be Christians and affect their world. They don't care about General Conference, who's compromising, who wore what, and who left the organization.
    They just want Jesus. The other 4% can shut up, and they should.

  6. thank you Joel Riley.

  7. Glen,

    I was there for Huntley's sermon last Saturday evening. To which of his statements do you refer? And to what was it in reference?

    Sadly, I missed Graham's (c'est la vie) but had many friends tell me that it was tremendous. (My WPF friends even bought the dvds...), at any rate, I will refrain from forming an opinion until after I have watched it...

    Does Graham represent a different side than Huntley? I thought them both to be conservative...

  8. Sorry, I made that sound like they were on different sides. They're both conservative. The liberals I referred to are the ones I see and hear of every day.
    I'm glad some liked Graham's message, I just found it to be the same junk he's been preaching for years. Not to mention it's all reactionary. He's reacting to things in the movement, not necessities of the world.

    And Huntley said Acts 2:38 isn't just the full gospel, it's the only gospel pan of salvation. Which, by definition means everyone who hasn't followed Acts 2:38 is going to hell. Acts 2:38 isn't even gospel. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the stories of the gospel of Jesus.
    It was just an arrogant, errant thing to say.

  9. Ah, so many feelings. I want to stand up and applaud you, write an "A" in red pen at the top of this "paper" and circle it with a flourish, and give you a hug -- all at the same time. And I want to thank you, for rousing some sort of feeling in me... for making me feel connected to something larger than what I am, now. For giving me a peek into what I'm not aware of or involved in anymore. Me, who "never goes to anything anymore," beyond the obligatory Sunday-Wednesday, of couse.

    I admit, I've missed your funny posts. Gotten a little tired of the reeeeally long musings (but what would a musing be if it wasn't, first and foremost, long -- so long it has to jump to another page). But this one? This one just blew me away. On several levels.

    Your humility. Awesome.
    Your writing. Awesome.
    Your analogy. Awesome.
    That's all for now. I know I sound like a groupie. That's ok. You deserve it today. :)

    I haven't watched the youtube video yet. Maybe I'll post again after I do. Youtube = NSFW.

  10. @Glen McGee I can read you post a few ways and I would like to clarify which you intended?

    A) Acts 2:38 is one of many requirements (aka praying, helping the poor, ...) all of which need to be fulfilled to inter Heaven.

    B) Acts 2:38 is recommended but not required.

    C) He is wrong to us the word "gospel" since Acts is not in the first 4 books of the NT. But if he used the word "scripture" that would have been ok.

    If A I will agree with you.
    If B I will strongly disagree with you.
    If C I will say something like arrrrg and walk away.

    @The Post

    Grate Video!! Thanks!!

    Very good point, I've been guilty of that and need to try not to do that.

  11. John, I know I rarely end up in conversation with you on here and in the other blog, but I really thank you for your comments and readership. You always bring something to the table...Seriously, Thank you

  12. Is it too much of a "sunday school response" to simply say, "Don't get all bent out of shape over those who are setting up invisible enemies and being reactionary...and instead focus on being the best Jesus that you can possibly show your friends, neighbors and community..."?

    I thank God that my Pastor and his wife have drilled Love into me. Love for people who hurt me. Love for people who speak bitter things. Love for people who speak and act ignorantly. Now, loving people doesn't come easy for me by any stretch, but they have taught me to think on positive things, and to keep Christ my focus (which, believe me, is a constant battle). At any rate...why do we need a movement to restore sanity? How about getting back to the basics...loving our neighbor as ourselves.

    With all due respect, Glen, it seems that even though you're on the outside of the sandbox, so to speak, that you enjoy throwing sand at the man of God, just as much as he throws to his invisible enemy. Why all the bitterness? Isn't that the point of Joel's post? (And Joel, I hope I haven't misunderstood your point!) We can always find a convenient enemy to battle...especially a brother.

    If we are all truly in this together (and I do believe that with all my heart), then let's lay aside the weights of anger, bitterness or even basic misunderstandings and run this race with patience and love.

    Respectfully yours,

  13. @John - all I will say is that I don't know. And nor does anyone. It isn't cut and dry, black and white or simple. What I do know is that Acts 2:38 isn't "all there is" or "the only way." Is it part of it? Absolutely. Will there be people in Heaven that never did it? I'm of the opinion that there will be, but that's my opinion. But to say that anyone of us has the definitive, final answer on the subject would be supremely arrogant. So I can't really say A, B, or C. I choose D - "I'm not sure"

    @Megan - I'm not attempting to throw sand, but if I am I'm throwing it at both sides. The man of God who is more concerned with "winning" against others isn't very much a man of God. As for the bitterness - I was bitter, very bitter, for a long time. But I've moved past the bitterness. Now I'm thankful that God took me out, and I watch with pity at those little toddlers, both sides, throwing stones at each other. That's not to say I'm in any way superior or in a better position. I just have a much different perspective. It's all really sad.

  14. Glen,
    Acts 2:38 is the "good news" or the gospel. It is the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And it is the only plan of salvation. Sorry that you got hurt but just because there is some infighting amongst A/P does not change this truth. 1 Corinthians 15....

  15. Brian,

    I'm really not going to get into all of this with you, but I have to at least say something. The gospel is the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, as covered in Matthew Mark Luke and John.
    At best Acts 2:38 is a (read:one) response to the gospel, but it itself is not THE gospel. Nowhere in the bible is Acts 2:38 presented as part of the events of Jesus' life. It is separate.

    And to say that it is the only plan os salvation goes right back to what we're talking about. I won't argue it. The truth is that we don't know. We arrogantly think and say we do but we don't. It's not absolute.

  16. Glen,
    It is not just a response to the gospel it is how we experience the good news of Jesus Christ. You cannot separate Acts 2:38 & the gospel. The good news is not good news w/o Acts 2:38. God bless-hope you find peace.

  17. I've preached that the younger brother left home because he was sick and tired of the older brother's rotten, rotten, rotten, attitude.

    And for what it's worth, Jesus was subject to way more than 39 lashes. The 39 thing was Jewish, so Paul says, "Thrice from the Jews received I 39..." The Romans, however, didn't bother counting, perhaps because, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, &c., is just too much work, or because they were plain mean. I've heard preachers say, "There are 39 classifications of disease, one for each stripe..." However, because the Romans don't count we can find unlimited, innumerable benefit from those awful, wonderful stripes.

  18. Apl, you hair splitter, you!
    Of course, I immediately thought the same thing. But the other content was impacting enough to dismiss the smudge.
    Too bad you're my dad, or I'd be virtual yelling at you right now.

  19. Brittany's DadOctober 7, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    Oh, sorry. Since I am the aged, I see that as an opportunity to teach a humble nugget that has much more value than the offending pebble. Not all corrections are criticisms, especially when from experience, humility, and love.

  20. You guys need to change the name of this Blog. The purpose of this blog is to destroy and discredit the UPCI whic you are a Fool for doing so!

    Joel Grow up put your time and energy into something else. Walk away from the UPCI and find something that will cater to you!

    Glen you are a Joke. I have read some of your comments on here and you are a farce.

    Guys bottom line you need to really and truly get a life!

  21. @Joel Thank you.

    @anonymous I'm rely trying to read you comment in a way that is satire and not just hurtful and poorly placed, but so far I have not had much luck. Poorly placed since this post seems much seeking unity. I would have said one of the NAYC '09 post would have been a better fit.

    We have competing ideals with in the AP community that need to be talked about. We are all seeking after God and how to best do His will. We have different viewpoints, fears and visions. We have one message, the good news of Jesus Christ, but the hole world will not hear it, if we speak it in only only one tong.

    We all must also watch ourselves. A world will never believe a message about a God who is love if it is said is a tong of hate.

    BTW why does everyone thing Apostolic = UPCI? The UPCI is just one (although rather large) out of may groups of Apostolics out there.

  22. Hahaha anonymous, that just made my day.

  23. @glen mcgee and @brian ...

    The Gospel is Jesus. In Acts 2, Peter preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Acts 2:38 was the altar call.

    Acts 2:38 is the biblical response to the Gospel. But Acts 2:38 is not not NOT the Gospel.

    Please don't make me say it again.

  24. Just got through reading 1st John. Love is mentioned 26 times! Mostly brotherly love and unity.

    By this shall all men know....

    God please help us. Please.

  25. @Brad V,

    I agree with most... I just don't believe A238 is the ONLY response or the MAIN one.. But good call. I like it.