Manufacturing Mole Hills

A Rant

Steve Camp continues to demonstrate his awesome abilities with manufacturing mountains out of mole hills. I can’t think of another internet blogger (except for maybe David Cloud, but he isn’t really a blogger) who can take one issue he happens to disagrees with and blow it out of such enormous proportions a person would think the entire hope of evangelical Christianity is on the verge of complete and utter collapse.

I am often truly amazed at such feats of hyperbole that often comes from Camp.

What is it that has Steve in a tither?

The original post can be read here, but to summarize for the reader,

Desiring God Ministries, John Piper’s outfit, will be having a conference at the end of September addressing the theme of the power of words and the wonder of God. As a promotion for this up coming conference, some videos were produced to illustrate the importance of the theme. One of the videos is of popular biblical counseling guru, Paul Tripp, discussing the significance of cuss words and edification called “What Makes Bad Language Bad?”.

On this video, Paul retells answering a question from one of his kids asking him about why are certain words considered bad. In answering the question, Tripp explained how some language is meant to explicitly express acts of sin on which we should not dwell. However, he explains there are certain words, though they are not necessarily bad in and of themselves, that are still ungracious and just plain crass. He then uses as an example the “s” word, and I don’t mean “stupid.” He repeats the word at least half or so dozen times on the video. Of course, its use is in the context of providing an answer to his kids, and now the video audience. As he continues his talk, Tripp describes how after he mentions the word his children began repeating it in various expressions. Seizing the moment, Tripp explains to his kids how the word is more than just being a crass word but one that does not minister edification to the hearer, what should be the aim of all language that comes out of our mouth as Christians.

Honestly, that is the video. But, the way Camp tears into Tripp for even uttering the “s” word (and I don’t mean “stupid”) with the righteous indignation of an armchair mullah, and of course beating on Piper for just having his name attached to the video, you would have thought it was a porno or something.

Now, let me be straight up honest with a few thoughts.

Could one make a case that Tripp should had exercised wiser discretion with his descriptions of language? Certainly. I for one would had cautioned firmly to modify his language so that he would not be actually using the word in the video. First there is a propriety of a well-known, reputable Christian teacher in biblical counseling using language like that, but secondly the addition of folks like Camp and his many back slapping readers irresponsibly twisting the video out of proportion will lead to unnecessary strife. But the video is hardly the vile, smutty rag Camp is making it out to be, and Tripp is hardly a “pomo” as he is falsely accused on his blog. I wasn’t “offended” by it when I watched his comments in the context they were offered, and I definitely feel no need to stir up pretentious feelings of outrage against either Tripp or Piper at the behest of Steve Camp.

Further more, I have never been a big fan of Piper. I have liked some of his books from the past and he has preached a few message that have touched my soul, but he is not a preacher I seek out to hear. I know he has been the darling of the young and restless reformers for near a decade now, but he does hold to some quirky ideas which I will leave for the time being, and his preaching is too saturated with histrionics for me to truly enjoy it. Lots of people like him, I don’t so much. That being said, he is hardly on the verge of apostasy for posting this video of Tripp and allowing Mark Driscoll to speak at his conference.

And for Driscoll, I am not a big fan of his either. I think he is too frivolous in the pulpit. His explicitness in his preaching has become a stumbling block for many and that is something no preacher should want to have attached to his ministry. What do you want to be remembered as when you die? An edgy speaker who pushed the barrier of appropriateness in your messages? Or someone who proclaimed clearly with out compromise the Word of God with class, dignity, and gravitas? Think Martin Lloyd-Jones, and perhaps S. Lewis Johnson. I also don’t care for a lot of Driscoll’s ministry philosophy. By thinking practical ministry must be altered to specially meet the needs to the post-modern, younger generations, I believe he undervalues the sufficiency of the gospel and the sovereignty of God in salvation. At the same time, however, I do believe he has been too harshly criticized and turned into a much bigger boogie man than what he truly is.

I know Camp wants to carry on like he is some sort of modern day Amos calling the Church back to godliness, but in this instance, this perceived ill is a manufactured illusion. Believe me, he has a repeated history of this sort of misdirected rebuke. I can remember, about a year ago, he was the guy who posted a blog article scolding and mocking a deacon for appropriately telling teenagers to not smoke in the parking lot of the church. (Read my response, too).

Camp cites Ephesians 4:29 as the passage Tripp violates, but he did no such thing. If one would consider the context of what he actually said in the video and why he said it in a responsible manner like the disclaimer at the beginning of the video tells the watcher to do, Camp’s complaint is just plain misguided and is needlessly stirring up division when none should occur.

Ephesians 4:29 speaks to an established pattern of conduct and speech. In other words, a person who is marked out as having a foul mouth. This conduct and speech, though, is more than just cuss words. It directly speaks to edifying speech, and a person can have unedifying speech with out the use of cuss words. Mark Driscoll, I believe it can be argued, fits this category. Even though he doesn’t use specific cuss words his sermon illustrations and other content in his messages are often times corrupt words as explained by Paul in Ephesians. I can think of several fundamentalist preachers who could easily fit into this category. Many in the KJV-onlyist crowd certainly fall under Paul’s warning.

Paul Tripp’s video when he uses the “s” word does not, however; and I think Camp making this an issue is much more damaging to the Body of Christ than a cuss word uttered a few times for the sake of explaining proper edification. In my opinion, Steve owes these guys an apology for overreacting.
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When did Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs become a Dawkins stooge?

Another Rant

Ever since his involvement with exposing Dan Rather’s fraudulent Bush National Guard documents back in 2004, I have been an avid reader of Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs blog. I particularly appreciate how he highlights international news items reporting on events in the Muslim world and the Middle East that otherwise go unnoticed by our American media. His photo slide shows about PLO child abuse or the wacky antics of anti-war moonbats are at times valuable photojournalism to consider. I think his blog is such a valuable tool for staying on top of international current events, I even have it asterisked in my side-bar links.

But in recent weeks he has turned into this shrill, militant, snotty Darwinian apologist. In a manner of speaking, a Dawkins stooge. It seems like every 5th post is about some science news item, but it is attended with his snide, mocking comments aimed at the Discovery Institute or anyone adhering to creationism. For example, he’ll note some item about the Phoenix lander on Mars and add, “launched by the Discovery Institute… Oh, I mean NASA” as if a belief in biological Darwinian evolution is even remotely relevant to landing a rover on Mars. He certainly would hesitate to make such ignorant, clownish comments if he realized a good many of the people behind developing the Mars lander are non-evolutionists, with a few of them even attending my church.

My only guess is he was annoyed with Ben Stein’s recent documentary Expelled, because he once respected Stein as a reputable conservative commentator, and now must do all he can to shun Stein who is perceived as an intellectual apostate. Hell hath no fury than Darwinian atheists spurned.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with this recent exposure of attitude, because it is reflective of your typical person who has been mis-educated on this issue. Charles has the evolutionary propaganda handbook and is running it play by play:

  • The consensus of scientists in the world are Darwinians and no consensus of any alleged group of “experts” can be wrong about anything, especially the infallibility of their chosen scientific belief.
  • Dissenting “scientists,” like those men at the Discovery Institute, are really quacks and psuedo-scientists. Their “doctorates” are probably all made-up, or they received them from George “Goober” Lindsey University or some other degree mill.
  • Moreover, those dissenting “scientist” have nothing substantive to offer as far as criticism is concerned because they are not as highly educated as those scientists who are committed evolutionists. In fact, most of their arguments against scientific evolution were probably dreamed up during their weekly Thursday night Bible club meetings down at Jo Jo’s Catfish along side the White River outside Mountain View, Arkansas.
  • Moreover, the IDers are only clandestine fundamentalist snake-handlers in disguise anyways. If they got in charge of all the universities, they would make everyone go to church and close all the liquor stores on Sunday.
  • Evolution is the only logical conclusion of true, unbiased science. A real scientist doesn’t have any biases and when he examines all the evidence the only rational decision he can make is that Darwinian evolution is true, and thus to question any aspect of the facts is denying the truth. To deny evolution is to deny the Holocaust took place, or gravity exists.
  • IDers and creationists are biased, hence they can’t do any real science, and because unbiased scientists will be evolutionists by default, seeing they have had the courage to break away from religious traditions and follow the scientific evidence where it leads, which is evolution, only their conclusions about science are valid.
  • Any slight change in a species or adaptation to the environment by an animal group is proof positive of Darwinian evolution that led from molecules-to-man. So the recent, over hyped experiment of Richard Lenski in which E. coli bacteria gained the advantage of digesting citrate after almost 40,000 generations is proof of molecules-to-man evolution even though they are still bacteria, and given a zillion more generations, they will apparently sprout wings and fly.
The ironic thing about Johnson’s slurs against ID and creationism is that he argues just like the leftist environmentalist do against critics of man-made climate change: The scientists who reject it have a hidden agenda, or they are sub-par experts, or not educated enough, or are a tiny minority nowhere representative of the consensus, and they most certainly are denying the obvious, like denying gravity exists.

The so-called evolutionary experts always complain about the lack of evolutionary education. But I don’t see the failure of education as I do a failure to argue convincingly and in a manner that doesn’t involve the hurling of elephants and absurd ad hominem.

What’s Happened with Starbucks?

A Rant

I am a lover of good coffee. I have always rolled my eyes at those unsophisticated rubes who tell me there is no difference between coffee and they all taste the same.

“I wouldn’t pay no 1.75 for a cup of coffee! What idiot pays 1.75 for coffee? It ain’t no different than Maxwell house and I can get an entire can of it for like 4 bucks.”

Well, Nugene, there certainly is a difference and if you are content to drink swill with your fried apple pie in the morning it certainly is a free country. I, however, find 1.75 for a brilliantly brewed cup of coffee to be a worthy investment.

Philistines…

So at any rate,

Starbucks has always been one of my favorite coffee shops where I spend my 1.75. Yes, I realize they are pretentious in an annoying, ultra-liberal elitist way. Attempting to make horrible music appear important by selling the CD’s at the register, the whole “Fair Trade” nonsense, the eco-friendly approach with buckets of left over coffee grounds for your garden, and the brainless quotations from such luminaries as Robin Williams and Steve Jobs printed on the side of their cups. I also engage in my own personal, self imposed boycott of any coffee grown in Indonesia because of that country’s severe persecution of Christians, and Starbucks has a lot of coffee from that region of the world.

Yet, for being hippy-doofus leftists, the folks at Starbucks brew an outstanding cup of Joe in my opinion. Coffee is probably one of the few things hippy doofuses do competently. If only we could keep them corralled in their coffee shops so they wouldn’t spill over into politics the world would be a more peaceful place.

But what has happened to Starbucks these last few months? I understand they are in a financial slump, but the measures they have taken to dig themselves out appear to be potentially disastrous. It use to be every week a different roasted blend of coffee would be available. Every week would be a coffee from Brazil or maybe Costa Rica, or perhaps Papua New Guinea from where one of my all time favorite peaberry blends is grown. I would buy an entire bag of beans based on how just good the coffee tasted that week on that morning simply because they were offering that particular blend.

But the last few months Starbucks is only brewing Pike’s Place, a blend of coffee that is suppose to return us to the roots of their original shop located at the Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. Pike’s Place is an okay coffee. I certainly like the fact the beans are ground fresh every morning rather than stored in a vacuum packed bag. Fresh ground beans definitely improves the taste of the coffee. But why are they serving it exclusively as the only coffee I can buy? Have the CEOs of Starbucks smoked too much weed? Did the head of marketing get hit too hard with a baton at the latest anti-war riots? I am not a guy who likes change, so I want to take that into consideration as I level my criticisms, but it just seems like to me this exclusive brewing of one blend of coffee is not a move in the right direction to increase consumer satisfaction.

Without fail for the last 8 years on Thursday mornings, after I buy my volunteers’ donuts, I stop in to the Starbucks next door for a cup of coffee. Once it dawned on me a couple of months ago that I will be drinking Pike’s Place for now until eternity, my Starbucks purchases have diminished. I have skipped several Thursdays going to Starbucks. If Peet’s was opened at 5 AM, I would be headed there instead. And folks tell me those hippies make a better coffee.

Why Blowhard Evangelicals and Politics Don’t Mix

A Rant

Way back in the early 90s when I was a brand new, California resident scrapping my way through seminary, I would come home after church let out and turn on John Hagee while I boiled up water for my macaroni noodles. We only had a set of rabbit ears for a junkie TV someone gave us, but it was enough to pick up the main stations broadcasting in LA, including TBN.

Usually I got home to catch the last half of an end of the world, conspiracy driven pseudo-news broadcast TV show that read current events into the Bible. By the time I had changed out of my church clothes and put on my loose fitting short pants and my water was boiling, John Hagee’s show was coming on. I didn’t so much watch him for edification as I did for entertainment. Plus, as a young preacher wannabe, I was interested in preaching styles. Hagee had a Bible-belt windsucker patter about him that made him captivating to listen to.

Now, that doesn’t mean I agreed with anything he said. Most of his sermons, if we can call them that, was him reading a Bible verse or two, then launching into a rant against the Clintons and what he perceived as the demise of American culture. He’d rail against “Hillary and her hellcats” (his words, by the way) and how they wanted to “bewitch” our children with their homosexual ideas, or corrupt their minds with evolution, or what ever secular humanist agenda was on Hagee’s radar at the time.

His theology was not only politically driven, but also deplorable in some instances, as well as woefully inconsistent. For example, he had someone in his congregation design a giant, 24 foot display of the Seven Dispensations of History that he stood up behind his pulpit. For a long time, nearly a year, his TV show was him preaching on the various aspects of the classic, seven Dispensations scheme. On one program he made sure everyone knew we were now currently living in the Dispensation of the Church age. However, in another program, he talked about the age of law and how the 10 commandments played a prominent role in defining that period for the nation of Israel. He then goes into an “exposition” of each of the 10 commandments and bemoaned how Americans no longer live by the 10 commandments, especially the Clintons, and how we need to return to the authority of the 10 commandments as a society, especially Bill and Hilliary. If a person didn’t know any better, you’d have thought he was a theonomist.

Well, as he became a popular TV evangelist, he was “knighted” somewhere along the way as being a leading evangelical spokesman. So much so that he felt it his duty to open his big mouth and utter his evangelical-political opinion on some issue or offering his endorsement to a candidate worthy of “evangelical” support. However, this creeping malaise that has clouded “leading” evangelical pastors over the years with a need of being “politically relevant” in our society, has truly settled upon pastor Hagee in recent days, and in a rather significant manner. This is particularly true in the area of lending his personal endorsement of presidential candidate, John McCain, and it is not without devastating consequences for the integrity of his ministry.

Earlier this year, John Hagee, by throwing his personal endorsement behind John McCain, essentially told his evangelical flock both near and far to vote for McCain as president. Shortly after Hagee endorsed McCain, though Barak Obama experienced his Rev. Wright moment. Not to be undone by the inferred guilt-by-association between Barak and his crackpot pastor, Obama supporters, seizing upon Hagee’s endorsement earlier in the year, attempted to tie John McCain to Hagee in similar manner as Obama was to Wright. They cited comments Hagee had made in the past allegedly slandering the Roman Catholic Church with the “Great Whore” of Revelation and proclaiming Katerina as God’s judgment against a Gay festival to be held in New Orleans. Certainly Barak has his “crazy racist” pastor, but McCain has his “crazy anti-Catholic pastor” just the same.

Such a comparison is absurd because McCain never had the mentor relationship with Hagee as Obama did with Rev. Wright. But no matter. The allegations of being an anti-Catholic bigot had some traction, so much so that Hagee made the rounds on conservative talk radio to “clarify” any past comments he had made against Catholics and to affirm his support of Catholics in like-minded political causes and to distance himself from appearing to be a Rev. Wright.

Then earlier this week, just to make certain no animosity still exists between himself and American Catholics, Hagee issued a statement apologizing for any anti-Catholic remarks he may have made in the past. The full text of the letter can be read here.

Herein lies the devastating consequences: in his effort to synchronize his evangelical conservatism with Red State Republican politics, Hagee has to compromise truth in order to prevent appearing as a hypocrite.

First, in order to appear sincere with his apology, he had to deny or “waterdown” any past remarks about the history of Rome, regardless if whether or not his comments were factual, and the ones I heard were. And I hasten to add that contrary to Hagee saying his “Great Whore” comments were not meant for the Pope and Rome specifically, I most certainly remember him making statements on his program speaking against Catholicism as a heresy, so I am a bit surprised at his disingenuous remarks claiming he never said anything negative about Catholicism.

And then secondly, even if it were important to him, from this point onward, he can no longer offer any meaningful critique of Roman Catholicism historically, let alone theologically. Hagee has become beholden to the ecumenical status quo. That being, “We all love God just the same, no matter what sort of loopy, twisted beliefs we may hold dear to our hearts about Him, so let’s all join hands and work together for a better conservative America with evangelical family values.” I hope he took his own initiative with writing this apology letter to the Catholics, but I have a sneaking suspicion political operative may had “suggested” to him to do it.

None the less, I see with this apology statement a clear lesson for the Christian minister. There is a stark danger of being beholden to men with any affiliations we have outside our calling as pastors. We see among many evangelicals these days the rigorous pursuit of partnering with politics. This allegiance places a pastor in a precarious position. For when his biblical convictions become a liability in an ever widening political correct culture for his chosen politician, something has to give. Either his convictions he proclaims in the pulpit, or his involvement with politicians. Sad to say, most of our evangelical pastors side with the politician, not necessarily the biblical convictions.