Is God Using Bloggers To Purify The Church?

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40 Responses

  1. Em says:

    Michael, even though we don’t see everything eye to eye, you are doing God’s heart and His truth a service here. Thank you.work

    Fortunately mortals are not in charge of placing people on the train to hell or i and several others here would be waiting at the depot with you
    God keep, giving you strength of mind and body to keep on keeping on with this work

  2. Em says:

    “Thank you.work” 😼 not a command. 😬 not sure how the word “work” got there…. I must be losing more of my mind than i realize… ?

  3. Michael says:

    Thank you, Em.
    I resolved that this was a calling a long time ago…not a choice.

  4. bob1 says:

    I continue to believe that power, especially unchecked and unaccountable, is behind a lot of this
    stuff. I know it’s more complex than this, but…

    This is why some Christian thinkers have advocated for a democratic form of government as a
    better option than the rest, where there are checks and balances. and no one holds too much
    power/sway.

  5. Reuben says:

    This concept confuses me these days. The “church” is experiencing a modern day Tower of Babel, and seemingly exploiting it since day one.

    6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

    7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

    8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

    One could argue that god has problems with this compounding knowledge of the filth of the church, that it becomes known to everyone, yet Christians claim to be under the authority of god in making it known. I would not argue with that personally, because Christians simply don’t know what evil they subject themselves to unless it is literally spelled out, which you, and others have done.

    With that said, the Prophets seemingly always spoke words of warning and reprimand on behalf of god for various wickedness, so god seemingly condones this effort as well.

    Dispensations aside, if bloggers are modern day Prophets, and they speak against the institution of god known as the church, rolling in their own filth may be the life they should expect to live, not gaining popularity with crushing increase.

    Yet, there is hardly a corner of the world that maintains various religions that is also unaware of the corruption and evil therein, due precisely to the modern Tower. Christianity and Islam have a major trait in common in this regard, that they would much prefer these issues be dealt with “in house” so that events do not reflect on the institutions badly as a whole. Yet, nothing is EVER resolved this way, and the institution only becomes more powerful and evil when managing to sustain it.

    Yeah, I am confused. All I can chalk it up to is the reality that religion is detrimental, and wholly capable of blood inside and outside, and indeed does. Daily. Regardless of the Prophets.

  6. MM says:

    Reuben

    Why did they build the tower and why would God be so opposed to that?

    The blogs are just another means of communication and people really are no different than when they built a tower, the basic reasons are always the same.

  7. Reuben says:

    MM, I literally posted the reason?

    …let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

    They could not build a tower whose top may reach unto heaven, but god opposed it anyway, so without missing the point entirely by drowning in trivial minutia, I would flip the question, and ask why did god prefer them scattered and incapable of communicating? And again, I already posted the answer to that.

    The better question is, would god prefer we not discuss the reality of abuse in the church? What was so important to god that he confound people? Or are people like Michael simply perpetually reaching for the knowledge of good and evil?

  8. MM says:

    “Let us make a name…”

    That is the prime reason.

    It is also what I believe most motivates men, consciously or subconsciously, to start anything, including ministry.

    Yes evil lurks in the hearts of men (biblical and from drama).

    Abuse has been with humanity since it’s dawn and is a fundamental story of the whole bible. Now are we going to live like animals, consuming everything in our paths, or do the God thing and face the evil within us and stand up for the weak and save the lost!

    And it will be tough not trying to make a name for ourselves in the process.

  9. MM says:

    Dr. Seuss wrote about building towers, “Yertle the Turtle.”

    Yes just a children’s story. Too bad we just read our children Harry Potter these days and let them play first person shooter games (yes I’m opposed to them). What we are eat often shows who we are.

  10. MM says:

    Reuben

    “ All I can chalk it up to is the reality that religion is detrimental, and wholly capable of blood inside and outside, and indeed does. Daily.”

    Religion has never been the problem, men are the problem and men will use anything to make a name for themselves and get to the top of the tower.

    Some of the most evil men in history are not religious and often sworn atheists (which is also a religion).

    You might guess I find your argument blaming religion without merit and in the end it collapses on its own weight.

    My morning thoughts on the keyboard.
    Thank you for engaging Reuben.

  11. Reuben says:

    Absolutely false, MM.

    Having a christocentric attitude towards religion is pointless as well. It’s all religions, except maybe maybe maybe Jainism, and the jury is still out. Christianity is the bloodiest religion in all of history, and nobody answers why, except to say it’s man’s fault. It’s a boring conclusion that will never bear any weight with me.

    I will answer. You saw what god did, you emulated. Judaism and Islam saw the same god act out it’s deeds, and acted accordingly, so they can’t all be wrong, can they? I assume you would adopt the notion that they are all wrong, and I would agree, because of the damned religions.

    But what really fails in this particular thread is that the idea is to make a name for god, and religion has been doing that in spades to the bitter and horrible end of BILLIONS of humans, again, none more so than your religion.

    So don’t even start with the Stalin etc. lies. This is getting old. He was a seminarian and backed fully by the Russian Orthodox Church from beginning to end, and acted out the “will of god” on millions accordingly. Hitler, literally read from the Luther playbook to the glee of the Catholic Church, something they never adequately apologized for, and never will. Mao, a religion in and of himself, just read his little red book. North Korea, the Kim dynasty, the most religious state in the world today. They even have a holy trinity. And of all the examples you can think of, they all promote essentially the same things, and act out quite differently! Your god is just a different one, your religion merely normative in this regard. Older.

    “Too bad we just read our children Harry Potter these days…”

    Shake my head.

    I once talked to a Calvary Chapel pastor, this is almost two decades ago, at a pastors conference, who kicked out half his church because of Harry Potter. You must be from that era, because I have not heard that gripe from a Christian’s mouth in almost as long. Get with the times, it’s the Tranny taking over the world now, look no further than the Linkathon for that.

    I won’t get into what Atheism is here again, it’s twice as boring as your answer to evil conducted by your own religion.

    But what bothers me in all your morning thoughts on the keyboard is that you did not answer my questions. What Michael does here, in my Marxist Anti-Theist totally depraved and reprobate mind, is a good thing. I believe god disagrees. Just answer the questions.

  12. MM says:

    Reuben

    “ It’s a boring conclusion that will never bear any weight with me.”

    I’ve read all your stuff and quite frankly it’s typical and while you call it “boring” it is truth. Additionally I have no desire to convince you of anything.

    Religion is just a tool of control and is no different than any other form of control. There is no need to complicate or make it more difficult to explain than this.

    I have no regrets or fear of stating such, but I continue to read a bitterness, hate and fault finding in your posts. In the end we have all of made our decisions and have to live with them. The ultimate hope is we might identify our failures and see others as more than tools or fixture to accomplish our personal needs.

    I’m not your typical religious debater, I will not defend doctrines, dogmas or traditions as being right or wrong. What I will debate and defend is how you, I or anyone else treats others and by what means we may do such things.

    If you or I hate a particular religion, practice or other belief system and such feelings brings hurt and pain to others then quite frankly it is the wrong and we are no better than the thing we claim to hate and fight with.

    That’s my afternoon rambling.

    May you find peace in your quest.

  13. MM says:

    Reuben

    By the way you only post rhetorical questions, which it seems you really don’t desire to be answered.

    Thank you though for responding.

  14. Reuben says:

    The better question is, would god prefer we not discuss the reality of abuse in the church? What was so important to god that he confound people? Or are people like Michael simply perpetually reaching for the knowledge of good and evil?

  15. MM says:

    Reuben

    In all your hate for god and the god stories, did it ever occur to you god leaves it up to us to debate these things and find out the best path to walk.

    Again you ask rhetorical questions which have neither a yes or no answer.

    BTW please avoid you personal attacks and try to understand the difference between reading Yertle the Turtle and Harry Potter. Neither of which I have recommended against reading, could it be the simple story of a turtle is more profound than trying to find a special powers and a magical answer to every thing.

    Personally I find there’s no magical incantation or power that will fix the wrongs in life, just people willing to stand up for and alongside others.

  16. MM says:

    Reuben

    What I really like about Michael is his ability to stand up for and alongside other. That is what I see him seeking and like.

  17. Em says:

    Hmmm… when i was a child i read Hans Christen Anderson and Aesop… fairy tales do not prepare you for life – not sure about the cowboy movies where the good guys always won… still believe in that, but the definition and the time frame have changed considerably 🙂
    FWIW
    I have found nothing in this life that makes more sense that what is laid out in the Bible and on that i hang my hat (and my soul)…

  18. JesusFreak says:

    Do not answer a fool in his folly.

    Or, in today’s parlance: don’t feed the trolls.

  19. Michael says:

    JesusFreak,

    Reuben is not a troll.
    He’s my friend and I love him like a son.
    He is recovering from abuse received and abuse witnessed.
    He is over the top sometimes…but he respects me and my work.
    He makes us uncomfortable…and maybe we should be.

  20. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Seven Types of Atheism came out in the last year or so and is an easy to read survey of different forms of atheism in Western history. There are as many variants of atheism as there are variants in religious belief. I don’t regard anti-theism as necessarily always the same as actual atheism, though.

    I read a lot of Marxists lately because they can be absolutely brilliant in arts criticism but they are brilliant in arts criticism for much the same reason that Puritans are great and exploring the depths of the human condition. 🙂 Seriously, I’ve been reading the Puritan Richard Sibbes and the Marxist philosopher Theodor Adorno a lot in the last five years.

    I get that post Frankfurt school Marxists have wanted to no true Scotsman Stalin and the Soviet legacy out of Marxism but Stalin was a Marxist. The temptation to treat the worst impulses of humanity as stemming from religion is a temptation. When I read older Marxists inveighing against jazz and popular culture I don’t have to wait long before I see Adorno write something like “On Jazz” and come across as so chauvinist, so elitist, and so racist that his rant about the jazzman seeking potency through castration as the kind of thing I might expect from a kinist. Adorno was brilliant but his being a Marxist and atheist didn’t keep him from being a chauvinist elitist bigot who had an all too typical German resentment of Slavic art.

    Without the egalitarian elements and anti-usury traditions in Judaism in particular and the Abrahamic religions more generally we might not have gotten Marxism. Attempting to finesse the issue by defining Judaism as a set of ethnic lines rather than as a religion seems intellectually dishonest. We would not have the West that we have without substantial contributions from the Abrahamic religions, and I’m including Islam because of the brilliant work in mathematics Muslim scholars and scribes helped preserve for the West to eventually regain access to.

    I’m ultimately skeptical about the viability of Marxism in the real world for much the same reason I’m dubious about postmillenialist theonomistic ideals as politics.

    Even if we read it as the product of exilic period writing (an increasingly popular view) the prophetic books of the Old Testament come across as a robust body of dissident literature. Expand your reading in divination as political speech beyond Judaism and it becomes a little clearer that prophets denouncing the abuse of power happens but having those denunciations of abuses of power canonized is not always the case. For Christians too lazy to engage with this aspect of the biblical books, people who pretend that speaking up against the powerful abusing their power and spinning canonical texts to their own ends as just being bad people ignores, probably deliberately, that the prophetic books can be read as an intra-canonical body of dissident literature.

    My complaint about the Frankfurt school Marxists and the religious right is similar, they both have become over the last half century what Marxists would call insufficiently dialectical. Cross referencing Marxists with figures like Francis Schaeffer has been fun. There’s a lot of conceptual overlap between the neo-Reformed talk about the idol factory and what Adorno and Horkheimer called the culture industry. Theists and anti-theists alike could benefit from reading across teams. I’ve felt like I’ve been able to make some fun breakthroughs in my consideration of what went on at MHC by doing a mash-up of Jacques Ellul with Theodore Adorno with Richard Sibbes.

    Cold War era balkanization of the mind led to a lot of totalitarian ways of thinking that don’t recognize themselves as such, and the places where that happens most in my observation are in the religious right and also, not so surprisingly, in the new atheists.

  21. pstrmike says:

    Thanks Wenatchee,
    Much to ponder in your post. I was struck by your last few statements :

    ” I’ve felt like I’ve been able to make some fun breakthroughs in my consideration of what went on at MHC by doing a mash-up of Jacques Ellul with Theodore Adorno with Richard Sibbes.
    Cold War era balkanization of the mind led to a lot of totalitarian ways of thinking that don’t recognize themselves as such, and the places where that happens most in my observation are in the religious right and also, not so surprisingly, in the new atheists.”

    These are perennial ideas that in some sense, have a universal quality about them. We as humans seem to operate in similar patterns despite our different environments.

    I did some reading of Ellul when working on my dissertation, though I did not address his work directly. That connection with Ellul, Adorno, and Sibbes is interesting, and on the surface, makes a great deal of sense. It is one that I am looking to pursue as early as this coming summer. I would think that Machiavelli, who is much more well known, might also round out that conversation. It has been said—though I’ve never read any evidence—that Stalin was a fan of Machiavelli, as was Pol Pot.

    If you have any suggestions of areas where I might read, please send me a note at pstrmike01ATgmaildotcom Thanks

  22. Em says:

    Interesting ponders in these comments… will have to reread the Hatchet a couple or three times…
    What is rolling around in my mind this cold, foggy morning are the things Jesus is recorded as speaking out against within the then practice of Judaism and the recorded warnings to the churches in the book of Revelation…. Satan does seem determined to devour as many as possible… and, if you speak out against corruption/evil you see eroding the Church, be prepared to experience attack – often blindsiding attacks
    It was a Roman Catholic priest who said that serving God effectively brings hardships (not the ones claimed by the abusers in the churches). I think i heard the late J Vernon McGee say the same..
    All this to say, pray for Michael and every other person you see serving God’s Truth… I am guilty of letting “George do it.” I suspect i’ll answer for this in the end… A prayer cover makes a very effective shield, i think

  23. Reuben says:

    Wenatchee,

    First let me say that you being the structure, and Stephanie being the billboard, in my not so humble opinion, wasted the name Mars Hill, and for that, I am grateful.

    Second, you both made names for yourselves. In this regard, in this regard alone, what exactly is the difference between you two and Mark? Mr. “It’s all about Jesus” made a name for himself, and he was inextricably linked to the mantra. You, and others have never been linked to such mantras, but you like to lay claim.

    Did that sting? It should, because the last respectable thing about you is your inability to deal with dissent, and your MO played out perfectly, which is to speak of the dissenter as if they were not even there. Almost as if you view them as inhuman.

    Failure to address the topic that I answered to in this thread, speaks volumes of anyone who posted here. “Is god using bloggers…” seems a rhetorical question, but by all means, let’s discuss Marxism instead. Literally, it is only Michael who came close to addressing the questions I pose, “He makes us uncomfortable…and maybe we should be.”

    You should be.

    The damage you did to Mars Hill is not something that can never be repaired. I will never besmirch that. It is the best thing that could have happened to Mars Hill. But instead of answering the questions, you attack the one who brings them by virtue of my political beliefs. Does this somehow discredit the questions? Have you achieved some solace through this? I question the belief that any of you have accomplished anything in god’s economy by even bringing down all of Calvary Chapel or Mars Hill. I seriously. question if he views this is a full attack on his institutions. “Whatsoever things are of good report…” “True and undefiled religion is this…”

    I know for a fact that Michael is doing some real help behind the scenes with people who have been destroyed by your religion and its filthy heroes. Perhaps, and I suspect this is true, these works that go unnoticed, not in the public view, not on the blogs, are the ones that weigh heavily to your god.

    Stalinism was coined Stalinism rather than Marxism for a reason, and you are being horrifically dishonest to conflate the two. Francis Schaeffer and Karl Marx, Wenatchee? The egalitarianism of the Jews? What exactly did that do for your religion and culture? Here is my singular point on this drivel. “You shouldn’t be in the dictatorship business if you can’t pull from a well of religious credulity.” – Christopher Hitchens, a Marxist to his dying days, speaking specifically of the “Great Atheist” Joseph Stalin.

    Address the questions of the topic, and stop dehumanizing political beliefs. I am not here bashing Trumpers or Pelosi Prophets.

  24. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    BLoggers can be effective but … generally only to the extent that some branch of the institutional press decides to treat them as if they are to be taken seriously. Otherwise bloggers get ignored. They can get ignored for years. Maybe when something unusual happens bloggers get attention, and sometimes villified, but until institutional media get on board with a story there is not, in media terms, any kind of story. Documenting what the institutional press doesn’t deem newsworthy is still worth doing.

    Reuben, human violence is ineradicable. It can be contained and sometimes redirected but never eliminated. It is also not necessarily or automatically predicated on “religion” in any organized sense but on a conception of “sacred”. I don’t think it should be necessary to point out how and why these two concepts don’t automatically overlap. You probably get that already.

    Hitchens’ backing of Gulf War 2 and the War on Terror demonstrated there were things he regarded as sacred enough that killing people in war was defensible. Marxists are as willing to rationalize war as religious people but the appeal is to a different conception of the sacred. Neither Marxists nor capitalists were the “good guys” in the last century. Both were willing and able to rationalize evil on the basis of their conceptions of a sacred and on the basis of post-Hegelian philosophies of history. The intellectual dishonesty of Marxists and capitalists alike has been in ways they have been willing to scapegoat each other for things that span the history of the human race. Advocates for Christendom do the same thing.

    The tower of babel is what humans want to make, whether inside or outside religious contexts. Marxism is a form of that impulse as is Christendom. Rather than assert, as people like Hitchens did, that religion poisons everything, or that Christendom made the world a better place, I think we need to consider that it is our capacity to conceive of something as sacred and representative of “us” that is historically the biggest engine for atrocity and that does not have to be explicitly religious.

    The impulse toward totalitarianism spans the spectrums. Within Marxist legacies Lenin and Stalin went in one direction, Mao in another, Adorno and Horkheimer in another. I’m most sympathetic to the Adorno/Horkheimer direction. In the American Puritan legacy there are the Cotton Mathers and the Roger Williams streams of thought, I’m sympathetic to the Williams stream. I am opposed to people, whatever camp they claim to be in, who claim that because of the theological or ideological view they espouse are exempt from the possibility of perpetrating atrocity.

    That’s why I regard someone like Hitchens as ultimately a demagogue who backed imperialism when 9/11 came along despite his earlier dissident record. It’s not irrelevant to point that out when you keep coming back to a Hitchens style idea that religion poisons everything. If we had no conception of the sacred would violence stop? I doubt even that would be the case.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t try to speak about how perilously easy it is for us to be okay with or advocate for atrocity. Whether it’s technocratic mass murder or technocratic media empire building dismantling the viability and morale of the enforcement castes by showing them what they’re actually doing to people can … sometimes … be effective in getting an abusive system to go offline before people try to reboot it and bring it back.

    Bloggers can potentially help reduce the success rate of people who want to build towers but only if, as Michael pointed out, people decide to stop funding the building of those towers.

    In the end I think Hitchens vitiated his entire legacy by his willingness to back Gulf War 2 and the War on Terror and I don’t think it’s irrelevant to point that out since you invoke him as regularly as you do, reuben. Hitchens is a non-entity in the contemporary left and Marxist scenes for reasons that I probably don’t have to explain. You could read just about any contemporary Marxist online journal about how and why Hitchens is not considered a legitimate Marxist voice in the last twenty years, although Marxists denouncing each other as insufficiently Marxist is more or less like Reformed guys denouncing each other as insufficiently Reformed.

    If Hitchens was a Marxist to his dying day he backed American imperialism in the end. Technocratic mass murder doesn’t actually require a dictatorship.

    I’m not, however, aiming to dehumanize political beliefs, I am trying to point out that there are no political or ideological or metaphysical convictions that cannot and have not sanctioned atrocity and we live in an era so full of balkanization along ideological lines since the Cold War era we are encouraged to believe that there are ideologies that are somehow a priori incapable of endorsing atrocity when we should know better. We need to be more vigilant about eager rationales to countenance violence within our own teams than other teams not because the other teams don’t do bad things but because it’s the nature of the already totalitarian tendencies of our era for people to write off their own convictions as exempt from advocacy of violence. This is why Hitchens’ warmongering remains salient to the discussion, since you keep coming back to him. I’ve met enough Christian socialists (more Chelcicky and Proudhon derived than Marx derived ideas in that wing) to have seen that there are impulses to build a tower of Babel and toward rejecting those impulses across all religious and political beliefs. You appear not at a place where you may be willing to see that yet.

    In the NT apocalyptic literature there are warnings about the bride of Christ and the whore of Babylon, the latter being, to put it briefly, those who take up the name of Jesus and do so for the sake of building their respective towers of Babel. These are the people who should be opposed.

    There’s plenty of historical and scriptural testimony that the tower builders are the norm and the spiritual fruit reveals that their legacies are evil.

  25. Reuben says:

    :\

    So your answer is a non-answer, dance, and another string of nonsense that has nothing to do with the points. You simply can not address the questions.

    I will take very serious exception to your closing statement. You have to define evil in this case, because as we already discussed in this thread, we know god’s reasoning behind why he chose to confound and scatter people. I question the very motive, the very statement of your almighty, and reject it as the speak of an authoritarian dictatorship that spanned beyond his own wheelhouse to imposing that motivation on people who did not even regard your god as god. Evil.

    So when you reference the apocalyptic writings of John, and cite “these” as the ones who should be opposed, you have defined “these” with no explanation, so I reject your claim. There is no difference in my view, so you skirted another shot at the question. I am acutely aware of the fact that the apocalyptic writings of John are debated to death, and Christianities insistence to parallel them with some current event. In broad terms, the writings implicate you. You create an apologetic, not an answer. This is to preserve your legacy. This also underscores the reality that you have an us v. them mentality in your own ranks. When do you start killing each other over it?

    Karl Marx builds the tower. Implicating my ideals does not work here. I am not held accountable to your scriptures, you are. So this “if, therefore” method of not answering the question is relentlessly pointless.

    When you say I am not at a place where I can see this yet, you hold me accountable to your rules. Again, I have no problem with you do, what Stephanie does (or did), what Michael does, in fact I applaud it more for the simple fact that you all do so within your own wheelhouse, and do it effectively. I am specifically questioning your rules, not mine.

    Hitchens, the reason why I quoted him seems self evident, but it opens a door for you to fill pages to discredit someone. None of this topic has anything to do with Marxism or Hitchens. You have not established how it does.

    Totally with you on bloggers being second rate reporters and commentators to media in general. As a former Christian, and as an Anti-Theist, I agree that mass-media has no fingers on the pulse of anything but ratings, and are simply incapable of including those who have watched and studied things for decades, such as my reading list of bloggers have.

    “Reuben, human violence is ineradicable. It can be contained and sometimes redirected but never eliminated. It is also not necessarily or automatically predicated on “religion” in any organized sense but on a conception of “sacred”. I don’t think it should be necessary to point out how and why these two concepts don’t automatically overlap. You probably get that already.”

    Interjecting a word such as “sacred”… and then making it the fulcrum point, man, this is some talented “if, therefore” skirting.

    “If” religion can justify wiping out billions of “god’s creation” in the name of gods, shouldn’t “therefore” be some justification for greater humanity to do it for no religious reason at all? Unfortunately, it NEVER happened. Being stuck in the mindset that god somehow fixes this, or justifies this, or makes this righteous is as baffling to me as the flying teapot.

    I think we are done here, because your next post will be to try to clarify the connections between Marxism, Hitchens, Schaeffer, and disposable plastic plates… and I am not interested.

  26. Reuben says:

    “So potent was religion in persuading to evil deeds.” – Lucretius

  27. MM says:

    Reuben

    “ and I am not interested.”

    I’m not buying it.

    When you write it is always a long diatribe of words and ideas loosely connected to the same theme, your hate for people who are religious.

    I consistently get the idea reading your words you have either become or always were the very thing you accuse others of being or doing. I also believe these same writings give your answer to the not so cleverly veiled attacks behind your question.

    I hope things work out for you.

  28. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I’ll bet Reuben was praying this weekend, to the god he hates, when Ruth Bader Ginsberg was in the hospital. 🙂

  29. Em says:

    FWIW…
    Our brains are processors of data and are incredible – almost unfathomable – organs… Our souls are something else, embracing our bodies as either all there is or as a dwelling for a time…. religion comes up with man made contortions such as the warriors’ reward, a flock of virgins…. 🙆.
    Christianity is summed up with God incarnate hung naked on a wooden pole and cross beam by those He’d save because we can’t redeem ourselves, no matter what we devise as righteous… Grace comes down and – for some – faith goes up. That cross is our point of contact with the unspeakable love of a holy God… (HALLELUJAH)

    Pontification attack over. 😇

  30. Reuben says:

    MM, you have no idea. I just watched another “sheep” of mine buried, suicide. When you say, “…you have either become or always were the very thing you accuse others of being or doing” you quite literally have no idea. I’m sick of the blood. I am not sure what you implicate through that statement though, but you have zero clue. I don’t know how many people you are responsible for have taken their own lives, but when it happens, you wish your own death, regardless of what you taught.

  31. Em says:

    “The life of the flesh is in the blood… ” how sorrowful these despairing suicides. .. Some kill themselves with no faith and no hope. We just cannot look to other frail or phony Christians for approval or for strengthening our faith … IMX
    When i quit college and went to work my R.C. Texas uncle, a corporate executive, told me, “always remember people are no damn good!” Someone here says that a lot… 😄. and our Lord sure spotlighted the phonies in the Jewish system… Kind of interesting to ponder the reactions then and after His death.
    Kind of interesting to ponder the reactions these thousands if years since He was resurrected, too. Faith in that is a leap, true, but results are stunning… I’m here ta tell ya… 😇

  32. pstrmike says:

    I have given this thread some careful thought, including some back and forth conversations with Michael. I remembered my own experience of abuse and the systemic structures that enable such to happen. It seems that there are two characteristics that are inherent in all social/political systems, and the church is no exception. There is hierarchical structure between those who have and those who don’t, and there is a bent toward a mental posture that can only be described as totalitarian in nature. In both cases, civility envisions a peaceful co-existence by rooting out the dissidents. We become defenders of our own dogmatic positions.

    I saw this dynamic in full swing in a church group that is considers itself as progressive, moderate, and inclusive of all others. Conservatives and particularly fundamentalists need not apply. The group took on a hierarchical structure and those with the power attempted to enforce a unification based on a narrative, that quite frankly, lacked serious biblical framework. Those who didn’t buy into that new party line found themselves on the outer orbit.

    All of this led me to ask, are there two competing systems at work here? We have abusive ecclesiastical structures (churches and colleges) and the reformers seeking to unseat them. Obviously church reform has gained enough momentum that we now have a conference about it. Both those with the power, and the reformers who are seeking to expose them seem to operate with the same methods, both claiming to speak for God, and therefore God must be on their side, both of them are riding the waves of media exposure which reminds me of my days in the ocean with too many surfers competing for the same waves on a crowded point break.

    To be clear, I don’t see Michael or Wenatchee as a part of that system of reformers. But I do wonder about Roys, Beach and others who were once a part of abusive ecclesiastical systems (I’m not sure that Roys was ever an insider at an abusive system). In fairness, I recognize that they were also victims of such a system. Their stories should be told, and they deserve justice. But in some cases, I suspect that there are those who received at least some form of benefit due to their place on the inside. Such an exposure to privilege and the benefits they bring is always a temptation.

    It is like the glaring inconsistencies of the justice crowd who fly all over for speaking engagements at conferences, seminars and strategic meetings complete with the numerous photo ops pasted all over social media. Such is the way that momentum is established and maintained, I get that. But their lifestyles appear to be rather privileged, and to me, seem so disconnected from the very people they claim to advocate for. Advocating for justice is biblical, even better with frequent flyer miles.

    It is my hope that this current trend to reform evangelicalism is pure, and that they resist the temptation to build their own Tower of Babel. Otherwise, we will again hear the words of the prophet Roger Daltrey: “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

  33. Reuben says:

    All interesting points, Mike.

    Do you envision the effectiveness or reform being based on “grass roots”?

  34. pstrmike says:

    You ask a hard question Reuben.

    I see this thing expanding in various pockets, and will take on different characteristics with the typical church mixture of wheat and chaff. My exposure to the more “catholic” side of the church aisle has been for me, among other things, a greater comprehension of our humanity. I don’t dwell on the Imago Dei as much as I do the Incarnation, which for me, makes the entirety of the Christian faith both believable and acceptable. What am saying here? I think we often semi-impose our own preferences, ambitions, including avarice desires upon the Spirit of God and attempt to give Him credit in justifying our lusts for power. Talk about blasphemy……. We don’t adequately consider our bent to taint God’s calling with our own selfish impulse.

    One problem with grass root movements are that they grow up to be mature plants. We are never satisfied with the days of small things. A few years ago, one of the pastors here had this wonderful ideal of a Good Friday gathering where there would be stations of prayer, communion and Bible reading; everyone could choose to participate as they wanted. He invited our church and another church to participate. Next thing I know, the other pastor wants to place ads in the paper, have a big band for worship, and change the venue to a larger building accommodate more people. All those things are fine, but I felt suspicious of the motive behind all of it. When a spiritual encounter with God is turned into a marketing tool, you stomp the pneuma right out of it.

    Using the analogy in this thread, you can build a house of worship, or you can build a tower of Babel. What do want to build? The reality is, most people don’t know the difference. And that will continue until people take their spiritual lives more seriously rather than deferring so much to their favorite talking head. The call for justice and accountability in evangelicalism requires iconoclastic measures. These things should be self-evident the Christian, but for whatever reason, they are not.

    A true grassroots movement stresses a personal devotional life, aimed at the Spirit’s work in our souls of purgation, illumination and union with God. If I am humbly letting God change me, I am more apt to love my neighbor rather than to screw him over for selfish gain. A strong life of Spiritual Formation‑ a personal devotional life—balanced with gracious partnering with other likeminded people in the faith, are the best way of becoming tainted by our own personal ambitions and desires.

  35. Em says:

    Shepherds in the field received the angel’s message of tidings of great joy and then the heavens opened for an angel chorus of praise… Dumb, dirty sheep keepers saw the glory of the night’s event while Herod and the Pharisees slept snugly, safely in their pristine sanctuaries…. thought about that last night as i looked at an incredible starry sky… Imagining what it would be like to see an angel chorus appear, singing and praising the Creator of the sky… No wonder the shepherds went into town to look for this baby, the Redeemer and…. they found him. Plain old shepherds? Today would they be trash truck drivers or night watchmen or?
    Herod, on the other hand, killed all the infant boys in the area on the basis of a rumor… Man over estimates his importance when in power and maybe over estimates his intellectual skills too… dunno…. 🙆

  36. Reuben says:

    “I think we often semi-impose our own preferences, ambitions, including avarice desires upon the Spirit of God and attempt to give Him credit in justifying our lusts for power. Talk about blasphemy……. We don’t adequately consider our bent to taint God’s calling with our own selfish impulse.”

    Massive. And it directly speaks to my original inquiry.

    “When a spiritual encounter with God is turned into a marketing tool, you stomp the pneuma right out of it.”

    I know what you mean by that, and respect it, as I believed this strongly as well. Speaking from the perspective I have now… ratings are what drive media, money is what drives pharmaceutical companies, ultimate fame is what drives Kanye West, and keeping tithing people in the pews is what drives churches. The entirety of modern evangelical Christian culture is defined by this. The leverage of the pulpit, backed by an all powerful and knowing god is what keeps them there. Fear.

    “The call for justice and accountability in evangelicalism requires iconoclastic measures. These things should be self-evident the Christian, but for whatever reason, they are not.”

    Agreed. 100%. However, tradition has paramount leverage in defining the church. Maybe not so much in the US, because this is a cultural tradition that is almost “traditionless”. Globally, religious traditions dictate to this day the very identity of entire cultures.

    “A strong life of Spiritual Formation‑ a personal devotional life—balanced with gracious partnering with other likeminded people in the faith, are the best way of becoming tainted by our own personal ambitions and desires.”

    I will insert “not” between of and becoming as I assume that is what you meant. To the point, this is the thing that hung me up (because I believed it) so much prior to my departure, for over a decade prior, really. My life’s verse was Acts 20:22-24, which seemed to underscore what the servant of god looked like in the pragmatic. There is no Biblical reason to believe it extends anywhere beyond that. Expectations otherwise was simply interjecting yourself, and that was (in my mind) the ultimate heresy. I may have been wrong, but I have never been convinced otherwise. When I started to recoil from the belief that my own ambitions had catastrophically tainted my teaching, and god’s ideal for me, I went to the Anglican church to essentially simplify, in hopes that it would bring me back to the Pauline example of living in salvation.

    “My exposure to the more “catholic” side of the church aisle has been for me, among other things, a greater comprehension of our humanity.”

    I relate completely. It is ultimately what killed my desire to try (spiritually) anymore. All I could do was try to clean up my own mess. It is still a big mess, and I have not darkened the door of a church (unless it was work related, or AA) in maybe 7 years. I became an alcoholic. I prayed for death in the midst of examining the damage I had done to people. Like I explained to MM, I watched one take his own life in a state of absolute hopelessness 7 days ago, because his humanity would never fit the ideal, and he knew, as I did, that there was never going to be an escape from the self hatred. I imagine Paul beat himself because he was acutely aware of this as well.

    When I examine church abuse, I do it from the perspective of the abuser, and from this perspective, it does not look like the grand examples of abuse, but rather the long term abuse I inflicted on people by driving them to a place where things like 7 days ago happen. My “flock” has long since grown into “normal” lives with spouses and children, jobs, mortgages, and they exist on therapy, drugs, alcohol, confusion, self hatred, or outright denial.

    The reason why I ask who you envision this playing out is because there is much to address, and how is this done by the Paul’s? How is it done in a purity that transcends self to the degree that one’s name no longer matters? I almost imagine that it could only come from new blood, new wine skins, a total redefinition of what religion is, and you used the word beautifully, untainted.

    I want this to happen, not because I believe in your god, but because it will literally save lives. I am surrendered to the reality that religion will never go away, but if it can become genuinely safe, I stand behind it completely, as an Anti-Theist.

  37. Em says:

    One thing i notice as i read what is written here of lost faith in the God of the Christian. It is always a faith that has been way too heavily influenced by other humans – that may work for mindless fanatics or others who are susceptible to mind control of one kind or another. A Muslim or a Buddhist, perhaps..
    For those serious about the why of mankind, the starting point, the fact upon which all other Biblical accounts hang (there is a logic to the Book) is the account of what God did, submitting to a crucifixion. That is where the, now hackneyed phrase, “leap of faith,” must take place.
    as old Paul said to the effect, you won’t escape, if you ignore this great salvation… course, if there is no giod, the miracle of us is even greater
    Or so it seems to me… dunno, though, do i? 🙆

  38. Reuben says:

    Em,

    For the most part, I ignore you, because you speak of me, but rarely to me, and most of the time, I have no clue what you are on about. But the. following comment, directed at me. or not, I will not let slide:

    “…mindless fanatics or others who are susceptible to mind control of one kind or another. A Muslim or a Buddhist, perhaps..”

    This is such an outrageous statement that you should count yourself lucky you say it in a relatively closed readership where there is occasionally only me around to call it out. This kind of bigoted nonsense is one of the most glaringly obvious examples of how the vast majority of Christians in this country have almost zero comprehension of reality outside their own church, let alone the rest of this planet.

    How is it that a Muslim or a Buddhist is a mindless fanatic? Or somehow more susceptible to mind control than you? Are they stupid or something because they are Muslim or Buddhist? What on god’s blue planet can you possibly mean by that?

    “For those serious about the why of mankind,”

    Do you honestly think Muslims or Buddhists are not serious about “the why of mankind”?

  39. Michael says:

    Rueben,

    Lets call this one…I think the chances of mutual understanding are slim.
    My best wishes to you and yours this Thanksgiving, as always.