Church Clarity’s “Explosive” Report

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165 Responses

  1. John 20:29 says:

    Just came off of reading the link… Couldn’t agree more with what is posted here – hope that doesn’t jinx it 😳 … Is the (modern) world really the standard by which the Church should be measured? I say “standard” as I do not think that we are without shortcomings. – as Revelation’s letters to the seven churches attest
    The one issue that will have to resolve as a societal evolution, however, I suspect is people of color taking leadership… a hurdle not yet overcome is that skin color does not connote virtue and that fact goes both directions IMHO

  2. bob1 says:

    What does it mean, specifically, that a church is “gay affirming”?

  3. Michael says:

    bob1,

    I think it boils down to accepting gays in ministry positions and performing gay marriages.
    Especially the latter…

  4. Paige says:

    More people of color in the churches?

    All depends on which circle of churches you hang around or where you live. (anywhere but the RV).

    Just do a GIF search for “hallelujah” to see where the passion for Jesus is.

    Having attended a mostly Black charismatic Baptist church for nearly 8 years, I can affirm there is plenty of ‘color’ in The Church.. People of Color, have it DOWN. We pale folk were at the end of the line in Creation, and if God ever ran out of anything…. it might be melanin, passion, soul, expressiveness and WORSHIP.
    LOTS of impressive MDIVs and ThDs from prestigious universities in the realm of Black church too.

    We need to get out more. I know Michael loves the Anglican church for many great reasons but they ain’t called The Frozen Chosen for nothing.

    I do LOVE a good screaming sermon with lots of affirmations from the congregation and 2 straight hours of legit worship. Holy Ghost shivers. You can always ‘go to’ YouTube Church for a ‘fix’.

    Can I get an ‘amen’ some body.
    Please take this post in the attitude intended. 🙂

  5. Michael says:

    Paige,

    I hope to have the first Anglican church with an African American choir… 🙂

    I think these folks who made the report want to legislate not only theology but those who preach it…the focus is on mega churches.

    I’m not big on those either…

  6. John 20:29 says:

    Paige, when I was a teenager our Presbyterian youth group visited a black church in LA (Echoes of Eden) – the rest of the group was ushered up to the balcony, but my friend and I were shown to seats on the main floor smack on the middle of the hand holding, swayin, singjn, stompin, shoutin, hallelujah glory action… No way to stay frozen there… 😊
    Loved it, but I need a quieter setting to worship… I guess I would have gotten a kick out of David dancing for joy, tho

  7. Jean says:

    I’m not here to argue, but only to observe the dissonance between the place of Scripture and tradition over one issue, but not over another.

    Question: Is the complementarity of the sexes a moral issue?

  8. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I outlined my reasons for my position on women in ministry in a three part series,so it would be foolish to try to do so in a single comment.

    https://phoenixpreacher.com/why-i-changed-lanes-on-women-in-the-pastorate-part-1/

    https://phoenixpreacher.com/why-i-changed-lanes-on-women-in-the-pastorate-part-2/

    https://phoenixpreacher.com/why-i-changed-lanes-on-women-in-the-pastorate-part-3/

    There is dissonance between the two positions if one only looks at a surface level.
    I have complete respect for those who because of Scripture and tradition disagree with me.

  9. Michael says:

    Let me be clear about my position.
    I’m not saying that I’m right and everyone who opposes me is wrong.
    I’m not demanding that anyone change their tradition to suit me.
    I’m saying that after much study,this is the conclusion I’ve come to… my best understanding of the issue today.

    I might be wrong.

  10. Kevin H says:

    As to the original article here, I had pretty much the same reaction. I had read the link from Linkathon before seeing this article and after clicking on the link to find out what the 3 “explosive” insights were, I thought……. Duh. What a dumb and misleading title and original report that are only trying to sensationalize things that are already commonly known or assumed.

  11. Duane Arnold says:

    #7 Jean
    #9 Michael

    I have had a difficult time (as Michael knows) concerning the ordination of women in the Anglican world and have been on the fence for decades. When I served in a cathedral setting, one of my duties was the liturgical training of ordinands… including women. I gave them the same training as the others (even a bit more), explaining to them at the time (some years ago) that they had to be even better prepared than the men as they would be judged more harshly.

    In the Anglican world the issue was made even more difficult in that the first women were ordained illegally and sanction was only give some time later. Owing to this, their ordination was viewed as a “justice issue”. It did, however, essentially slam on the brakes in discussions with the RCs and the EO. My wife, by the way, is opposed to women’s ordination in the Anglican world, simply because the majority of Anglicans are now in Africa and many national churches do not ordain women and she feels the voice of African Anglicans need to be heard.

    As Michael says, I may be wrong as well, simply for sitting on the fence…

  12. John 20:29 says:

    What has changed the whole male female dynamic today is the effective birth control available to today’s woman…
    Not all women were sturdy pioneer types or wealthy dilittants – people, for the most part, took raising children and family cohesion as job one… hard to imagine today, but laundry was an all day chore and had to be ironed, another half day, meals were sit down affairs 7 days a wee and the only frozen foods were ice cream and peas – the only thing that you could buy on time was a house (those houses only needed one car garages), babies wore cloth diapers, which had to be boiled at times, stores were open 6 days a week and only after 5:30 p.m. one day a week – a man was respected for taking care of his wife and family, a wife worked hard in the home and was respected for making life worth living … all that began to slowly change beginning in the 1950s… we still haven’t settled in to an acceptable new set of standards…
    Now, I know, not all men and women fit the mold then and still dont… nor should they
    Will there be a millennial reign of Christ? I hope so because I’d love to see how this world would function when forced to follow God’s design for mortal man… Today we don’t even know for sure what it is, eh? 😐

  13. Captain Kevin says:

    “Let me be clear about my position.
    I’m not saying that I’m right and everyone who opposes me is wrong.
    I’m not demanding that anyone change their tradition to suit me.
    I’m saying that after much study,this is the conclusion I’ve come to… my best understanding of the issue today.

    I might be wrong.”

    That’s pretty much my take on almost every issue anymore, with the exception of the deity of Christ and the Gospel of Grace. I used to be so sure of myself…HA!!!

  14. Xenia says:

    If you are balancing Scripture, Tradition and Reason, you pretty much have to lean entirely on Reason to affirm the ordination of women. (The person of Junia is too ambiguous to add much to the discussion.)

    And history has shown us that for groups that do ordain women it almost always (can’t think of a time it hasn’t) led to either apostasy or aberrant teaching.

  15. Kevin H says:

    CK,

    But you sure seem quite sure of yourself with all those Facebook pokes. You never back down!

  16. Captain Kevin says:

    I’ve come to loathe the word “explosive.” Explosive worship, explosive preaching, explosive healing ministry, explosive revelation, explosive youth ministry… It’s all explosive diarrhea as far as I’m concerned.

  17. Captain Kevin says:

    Kev H, Aye Matey, the sword keeps on poking!!!

  18. Captain Kevin says:

    Xenia, I actually agree with you, but it’s just not a hill I’m willing to die on anymore.

  19. Paige says:

    Well, times have changed in many ways. I’m not sure who gets to decide how much of scripture is to be relegated to ‘that was then, this is now”…head coverings, circumcision, being stoned for not keeping Sabbath or being an adulterer or rebellious teenager… all biblical stuff… Most of us have never been responsible for actually killing an animal to eat, much less to offer as sacrifice to God. Yet, killing and dealing with lots of blood and offal are all Biblical in a big, big way, even in Jesus and NT times.

    Nothing like church as we know it today… How’d we get here from the Book of Acts?
    So, who decides on the NT verses limiting the participation of women? Not me.

    Should women pastor? As the saying goes, “opinions are like armpits. Everybody has a couple”. Personally, I would not want a woman as ‘pastor’… aka a church’s top leader, teacher, visionary, buck holder, etc. Is that a conditioned response? No idea.

    I recently looked at the website for a local Presbyterian church that is dwindling, and I noted that almost the entire staff is female. Hey. I’m female… I’ve taught both women’s and co ed Bible studies.. I know a young gal who feels ‘called’ to be pastor.. Call me old fashioned, and I AM old, but I”m not into it. I rather like the comfort and safety of not being in charge, top dog, leader, etc. To be PART of leadership in an advisory position, prayer support, visionary participant, team member, etc, yes, sure…. IMO, acknowledging the natural, genetic, chromosomal and basic differences of genders rather than trying to be like the one we are not, just makes more logical sense to me.

  20. bob1 says:

    I’ve come to loathe the word “explosive.”

    Good one!

    And while we’re at it, howzabout we bury the word “Xtreme”

    Barf

  21. Eric says:

    Largest 100 churches is the wrong domain to judge whether church leadership generally is whiter than it should be.

  22. Eric says:

    Stating one’s position on every issue in black and white is not the way to engage people of different persuasions. Jesus often didn’t answer his questioners in the black & white terms they asked for.

    Sometimes people’s positions change. Sometimes churches change pastors. Sometimes different parts of scripture, and the sermons that come out of them, will have different things to say about some issue.

    I can understand not wanting to choose a church where I’m not told I’m sinning in a particular way. eg a pastor who tells me it’s sinful to be depressed – even though he is quick to affirm that we are all sinners and freely forgiven in Christ.

    You reported recently that Willow Creek (which I assumed was in biggest 100) has a female co-lead pastor.

    I would like to a survey of churches’ positions on whether it is permissible to take a Christian to court.

  23. Eric says:

    I was thinking about how trying to derive a simple affirming-or-not status from all things that might be said in a church is a bit like putting light through a polaroid filter.

    Then it occurred to me that the technical term for this is polarisation, a word that also describes one of the sad things about today’s society.

    (On further thought, a basic quantum mechanical analogy would be closer to the mark scientifically, but I never properly understood that part of physics.)

  24. Jean says:

    This comment is tangential, and arguably off topic. So, please feel free, Michael, to delete it.

    I’ve been engaged in a thought experiment: If an able historian, say 50 years from now, were to write a history (probably not an obituary) of the Christian church in America, which, if current trends continue, will be severely diminished from what it is today, what might he find as the “canary in the coal mine”?

    In other words, was there an original lie that Satan slipped into the American church, which went unnoticed and polluted the whole church in a progression of aberrant theology and/or practice which led to the downfall of a large part of the American church?

    Let me say that I don’t believe any of the 3 “explosive insights” in Michael’s article are that canary. I don’t know what the canary was. Was it Bible higher criticism? Was it the pill? Was it the syncretism of church and state? Was it the deism of our founding fathers? Was it the biblicism of American fundamentalists? There are many other potential canaries. What do the readers think?

  25. John 20:29 says:

    It was the pill of course… LOL
    I’d bet that the true Church will remain somewhat static… Our influence declines, tho and my question spun off of Jean’s would be, if identified, can we stop it, reverse it?
    We’ve discussed the corporate model tactics. In order to be relevant, do we look foolish and insecure? A Faith without absoluutes? Lutes excepted, of course. 😶

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    #24 Jean

    It’s a worthwhile question and one deserving of consideration…

  27. Paige says:

    Jean, IMO it’s our sin nature… not any modern circumstantial presentation of it.

    The Church, that is collective of Saved Sinners, will be here til the Lord returns, whether we are underground under dire persecution (which wouldn’t be a bad thing) or gathered in home churches or big buildings.

    https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/833
    The Church’s one foundation
    Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
    She is His new creation
    By water and the Word:
    From heav’n He came and sought her
    To be His holy Bride;
    With His own blood He bought her,
    And for her life He died.
    2
    Elect from every nation,
    Yet one o’er all the earth,
    Her charter of salvation,
    One Lord, one faith, one birth;
    One holy Name she blesses,
    Partakes one holy food,
    And to one hope she presses,
    With every grace endued.
    3
    ’Mid toil and tribulation,
    And tumult of her war,
    She waits the consummation
    Of peace for evermore;
    Till, with the vision glorious,
    Her longing eyes are blest,
    And the great Church victorious
    Shall be the Church at rest.
    4
    Yet she on earth hath union
    With God the Three in One,
    And mystic sweet communion
    With those whose rest is won:
    O happy ones and holy!
    Lord, give us grace that we,
    Like them, the meek and lowly,
    In love may dwell with Thee.

  28. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    Eric

    On the question of whether it is permissible to take (I.e sue) a Christian to court, according to my personal studies of Scripture, the answer is “yes” if I am one of the attorneys and can charge $475/ hr. as my fair compensation. Please note that I make a Christian adjustment as I typically only charge the Earl Schieb rate of $29.99 to sue a heathen.

    However if you were simply referring to the mere act of driving (I.e. “Taking”) a Christian to court, you can beat Lyft’s rates.

  29. JD says:

    When the pastor starts a struttin’, the message becomes nuttin’.

  30. Duane Arnold says:

    #24 Jean

    I’ve spent the night thinking about this one… It seems to me that a number of the things you mention either predate what has/is taking place or are tangential issues.

    For American Christianity, I think it was the 1950s and the adoption of corporate business management models. This became widespread in all facets of American culture in the 50s and the 60s. Even the American military adopted the model, with our service academies using business models to turn out managers. The best example might be Robert McNamara coming from being president of Ford Motor to become Secretary of Defense and then “managing” the Vietnam War making use of statistics – troop levels, body counts, etc.

    Mainline denominations followed suit in the 50s and 60s. Seminaries increasingly turned out pastors who “managed” their congregations. The goal was stability and growth through the use of business models. This easily morphed into the Church Growth movement of the 70s and 80s with whiteboards, demographic studies, etc. Management, in these scenarios, tend to rely on situational ethics (witness the style of McNamara) as everything done is in the service of the “greater good” of stability and growth. In this scenario, “successful” pastors (in terms of stability and numerical growth) are rewarded (as in business). It is not about theological competence or personal holiness. As this model became normative in the 70s and 80s, we began seeing seminaries dropping language requirements, church history became a one class survey, etc. With success (in a business sense) becoming the litmus test of pastoral effectiveness, values have changed or become very fluid. Denominational leaders are CEOs, dependent on weekly dashboard reports, personality profiles, etc.

    All this has spilled over into non-denominational circles as well. Is a mega-church Sunday morning service significantly different (visually and content-wise) from a corporate roll out from, say, Apple?

    The problem, of course, is that for the most part corporate management is value free. Success is not measured in terms of truth or ethical probity (as we see day by day in headlines).

    There may be other canaries, but this is the one I found… Really good question for reflection.

  31. Duane Arnold says:

    #30 Addendum

    I should have added that the corporate business model has not turned out very well for American Christianity…

  32. WenatcheTheHatchet says:

    Duane, per 30, when you put it that way, it reminds me of something Ellul wrote

    PROPAGANDA: THE FORMATION OF MEN’S ATTITUDES
    JACQUES ELLUL
    Translated from the French by Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner
    Vintage Books Edition, February 1973
    Copyright (c) 1965 by Alfred A Knopf Inc.
    ISBN 0-394-71874-7

    page 230
    … Propaganda is a total system that one must accept or reject in its entirety.

    If the church accepts it, two important consequences follow. First of all, Christianity disseminated by such means is not Christianity. We have already seen the effect of propaganda on ideology. In fact, what happens as soon as the church avails itself of propaganda is a reduction of Christianity to the level of all other ideologies or secular religions.

    This can be seen happening throughout history. Every time a church tried to act through the propaganda devices accepted by an epoch, the truth and authenticity of Christianity were debased. This happened in the fourth, ninth, and seventeenth centuries (of course, this does not mean that no more Christians were left as a result).

    In such moments (when acting through propaganda), Christianity ceases to be an overwhelming power and spiritual adventure and becomes institutionalized in all its expressions and compromised in all its actions. It serves everybody as an ideology with the greatest of ease, and tends to be a hoax. In such times there appear innumerable sweetenings and adaptations, which denature Christianity by adjusting it to the milieu.

    Thus reduced to nothing more than an ideology, Christianity will be treated as such by the propagandist. And in the modern world we can repeat in connection with this particular ideology what we have already said on the subject of ideologies in general. What happens is that the church will be able to move the masses and convert thousands of people to its ideology. But this ideology will no longer be Christianity. It will be just another doctrine, though it will still contain (sometimes, but not always) some of the original principles and the Christian vocabulary.

    The other consequence affects the church itself. When it uses propaganda, the church succeeds, just as all other organizations. It reaches the masses, influences collective opinions, leads sociological movements, and even makes many people accept what seems to be Christianity. But in doing that the church becomes a false church. it acquires power and influence that are of this world, and through them integrates itself into this world.

    ***

    So post MHC and having read Ellul in the last three years I’d venture to say that the problem with pastors in megachurch roles is that they are propagandists rather than shepherds and that what can be said about megachurch pastors as propagandists can equally be said about other kinds of celebrity Christians who use mass and social media to make points. In the context of the United States, are probably any post-industrial society, is that there are leaders who are trained in a form of leadership that sees it primarily in terms of the techniques of propaganda. A lot of what is involved in what you allude to as a corporate model seems explicable in terms of mass media usage.

    While Ellul’s book was about explicitly political propaganda of the sort that would be germane to, say, an election cycle or a populist agitator in the American political tradition, I found the book illuminating for the ways it explicated cultural dynamics in a megachurch context such as Mars Hill. In a lot of ways what made Driscoll unique was not so much that he was a celebrity Christian propagandist but that among the leadership class of MH he was so clear about the nature of his media usage techniques in establishing influence. Even though the book’s half a century old I would still recommend it, seeing how many megachurches use the techniques mentioned in the book.

  33. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Personally, I see the ‘canary’ – the change of the American church as the advent of dispensatioanlism.
    Throughout the course of Church history the call to the church has been “beware of false teaching / false teachers”. John spoke of anti christ as being a theological challenge in the church. Christian teaching against the trinity and against the person and work of Jesus Christ.
    Whenever Jesus said “beware” it was always against false teaching / teachers. It’s funny that the same John does not use the term anti christ in Revelation because that is not the topic at all.

    But then in the part 150 – 200 years (the life of American Christianity) the dispensationalists brought “The Shift” – and now the spirit of anti Christ was no longer a warning of false teaching but the warning of an actual physical person – now our concern was shifted to day to day politics, and the warnings against technological advances.

    So, today our attention is turned from false teachers / teachings (even to the point we are no longer allowed to call them such) – but now we look to the direction of the politicians, the UN the EU. We have become more concerned about who wants to but a credit card reader under out forefingers.

    We have been taught to look for anti christ anywhere in the world, except where John said he would be found — our pulpits.

    At least that is my view.

  34. Josh the Baptist says:

    I guess I’ll call Luther the canary so we can all be equal.

  35. Josh the Baptist says:

    (Of course the Lutherans did ID the Pope as the Anti-Christ, so…)

  36. Kevin H says:

    There are plenty of dispensationals that still call out false teachers/teachings. For an extreme, just look at the ODM’s.

  37. Josh the Baptist says:

    Exactly. Such convoluted thinking. But that is truly what MLD believes, as he has made clear for years.

  38. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh @34 – the pope is called out as anti christ in the spirit that he is a false teacher (among many) in the church (anti Christ is only in the church) – the office and it’s occupants. But he is not called out as some political figure (like the president of Romania)

    Kevin @35 – I agree people call out false teaching, but is it done as John calls for it to be done? Called out as anti christ?

    Hey, if you guys would rather go with the big business model being the fall of the American church, that’s fine.

  39. Josh the Baptist says:

    “But then in the part 150 – 200 years (the life of American Christianity)”

    Of course, LCMS was founded in 1847 and is a distinctly American denomination. 2017-1847 = 170 years. Coincidence?

  40. Josh the Baptist says:

    You don’t think the Pope, especially in Martin Luther’s time, was a political figure?

  41. Jean says:

    Since I asked the question, I will weigh in as well.

    I think both Duane and MLD have articulated relevant events in the life of the church. If we were to construct a flow chart, I think both POVs would be in there somewhere.

    I don’t personally believe they are the “canary” however. But both manifestations do share a common denominator: They both seek a physical manifestation of the kingdom or physical relevancy of the Church in a religion which was once physical, but has become only spiritual.

    Historically, Jesus came to the Church and was present, not just spiritually, but physically in the Sacraments. You didn’t have to look for the Spirit in charismatic manifestations; you didn’t have to look for the Spirit in church growth; you didn’t have to look for the Spirit in end times prophesies, or Zionism. Christ was present in the Church, baptizing people and feeding them His body and blood. Moreover, the pastor was speaking God’s words of law and gospel, hearing confession and absolving sins. The role of pastor has been revoked in much of American Christianity as well, so that now his/her role is as a dispenser of knowledge and lecturer.

    Maybe Zwingli was the canary!

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Wow, Josh is doing a denominational beat down, like what was acceptable in the PP past.

  43. Josh the Baptist says:

    If I told you that the non-sacramental churches are in retreat much less than the sacramental churches, would that make a difference in your thinking?

    You guys will be dead long before we will. Are you taking the Holy Spirit with you?

  44. Josh the Baptist says:

    No, MLD. I’m just sharing my true views like you guys.

    It is strangely coincidental that the LCMS was born right around the time that started the downfall of American Christianity. I wouldn’t say the LCMS is the only canary, but it is certainly indicative of the ugly, fundamentalist, sectarianism that can’t survive long-term.

    Just my view.

  45. Jean says:

    Josh #42,

    For the most part, non-sacramental churches have won the battle for people’s hearts and minds.

  46. Josh the Baptist says:

    @ 44 – The truth has a way of convincing people.

  47. Michael says:

    This discussion reminds me of the one around why the NFL is having attendance problems.
    Everyone uses the fact (attendance is down) to ride their personal issues to the fore.
    The truth is that the church and the NFL have the same problem.
    (So do brick and mortar stores, for that matter.)

    The only reason to attend an NFL game in person is to root for your team in community.
    The view, the cost, the food, etc, are all better at home.
    The only reason for non sacramental church goers to attend church is to worship in community.
    You can watch the service at home in your robe and “be fed”.

    The problem is that our society has given itself completely over to individualism and gives little place to the value of community.

    There are a lot of valid criticisms of the church…but that is the root…in my opinion.

  48. Jean says:

    Rick Warren (and I’m not trying to pick on him) reportedly was heavily influenced by the management principles of Peter Drucker, who (and Duane can correct me) is credited for bringing corporate management principles into the church.

    I understand that before Warren started Saddleback, he surveyed the local community for what they wanted in a church. I assume he took their suggestions seriously and gave them what they want.

    The problem is: Is the Church, is Christianity, is the Christian life promised by Jesus something that people want, that they would choose? Does it cater to my desires? What Warren did sounds more like how one sets up an Asheroth than a church. I understand why Warren did it, and may even sympathize with his intent, but it is built on a theology of glory, rather than a theology of the cross.

  49. Josh the Baptist says:

    It’s truth day on the Phxp.

    Warren and his followers have built on a theology of profit. Period. Follow the money.

    One more moment of truth – The line we have drawn around our country doesn’t affect God’s movement. The Spirit moves where He will. The first center of Global Christianity was Jerusalem. Within a generation, it was Antioch. Rome was the center for a long time, and probably the Southern United States have been for a while.

    The Spirit continues to move, and that center will continue to move. It is completely up to God. We should do our best to be the best stewards of the light he has given us.

  50. Duane Arnold says:

    I think part of the problem is that sacramental churches (I include Anglicans in this) still lean heavily on monarchical language in a leveled society (American) that no longer relates to that sort of language. The prosperity Gospel folk flourish because it is the language of “American success”. Many non-sacramental churches flourish because they use a language of, for lack of a better phrase, “leveled inclusion”… they are non-hierarchical, and Americans understand that… In America today monarchical language is restricted to Downton Abbey or The Crown; we only understand the everyday language of business or normal leveled relationships. It’s a problem…

  51. Jean says:

    Well Josh #45,

    I’m not looking for an argument over truth. I am just exploring the decline of the church. Now Michael has set forth a 3rd potential canary: the rise of individualism. Any other hypotheses?

  52. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “they are non-hierarchical, and Americans understand that”

    That’s a great point. I think it resonates well in America. I don’t know how well that theory accounts for the decline of the church in Europe though.

    However, if we stayed with your thought for a moment: Should the church change to fit with American sensibilities for a non-hierarchical society, or is there a timeless “order” to creation which the Bible establishes, which the church should follow?

    I’m thinking about the breakdown of families and marriages and it makes me wonder what we’ve lost from God’s Word concerning His created order.

  53. Michael says:

    The last real revival this country experienced was non sacramental and non denominational.
    Whether anyone likes it or not, the fruit has lasted.

    I have great sympathy for the “business model” affliction as being a scourge…I’ve written about it for years.

    However, it has always existed in one form or another in American evangelicalism.

    I also loathe the nationalism of the church…but it too has been a staple.

    We have to look for common cultural denominators..and I think it’s radical individualism

    Trey missed the bus and I have to get wood…back later…

  54. Josh the Baptist says:

    “I’m not looking for an argument over truth”

    That much is clear.

  55. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I can never figure out why the ‘rapture’ crowd is so sensitive to some pan denominational idea that crept in over the years – with no thinking of the consequences upon the church universal.

    No one got upset over big business model – although many here have a church with that system – why the visceral reaction to a challenge of rapturism?

    The doctrine definitely turned the collective head of the church from what Jesus warned of in Rev 2 &3 – which was not one world government etc.

  56. Josh the Baptist says:

    I’ll stick with the plain words of Scripture as opposed to some 6th century theological acrobatics.

  57. Josh the Baptist says:

    Especially a 19th century repackaging of a 16th century retelling of a 6th century acrobatic.

  58. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I was making my observations with regard specifically to American Christianity as that was the original parameter of the question.

    With regard to Europe, the Church was originally tied to the monarchial systems, as the systems fell or were diminished, the church followed as the language of hierarchy no longer suited the populations. Those Lutherans who fled the Church Union in the 1840’s in Prussia are an interesting example of keeping monarchial language while fleeing a monarchial system.

    In America, we’re more comfortable with individualism, business and commerce… and it is the language we use. The Church, in almost all of it’s manifestations, comes with some sort of hierarchy. Too often, however, in church history, we’ve equated that hierarchy with the “reality of the day”. From the middle ages to the 18th century most, but not all, were monarchial in one sense or another (including Lutherans and Anglicans). In America in the 19th century we adopted representational democracy to church order. In the 20th century almost every denomination went with corporate/managerial models.

    To be honest, we are called, I believe, to be counter-cultural… but we seldom succeed. We adopt the mores and standards of the culture because, to be honest, that is where most of us are comfortable.

  59. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane – what is an example of monarchial language? I am unfamiliar

  60. Jean says:

    By the way, for anyone counting their numbers as evidence for their possession of truth, that is quintessential corporate management thought. Numbers have precisely nothing to do with the possession of truth or non-truth.

  61. Josh the Baptist says:

    @ 59 – Completely agree.

    How is it that we are measuring the decline of American Christianity in this thread?

  62. Jean says:

    I’m using an abacus here.

  63. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well my assessment was a theological one. I wasn’t measuring growth or decline – although growth seems to follow false teaching while decline follows truth (check John 6)

  64. Josh the Baptist says:

    See, now that is a good way to measure. MLD says if your church is dying, you are doing it right!

    And since all churches in America are declining, maybe we all have truth.

    Or the fastest one to die was the truest!

  65. Jean says:

    Speaking of false teaching, MLD, the offer of the ultimate church growth was right there at the beginning, when after His baptism the devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, if….

  66. Josh the Baptist says:

    “I’ve been engaged in a thought experiment: If an able historian, say 50 years from now, were to write a history (probably not an obituary) of the Christian church in America, which, if current trends continue, will be severely diminished from what it is today, what might he find as the “canary in the coal mine”?”

    According to MLD, the canary is that we’ve been faithful!

    Hooray us!

  67. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – your only contribution to this conversation has been “Well your stuff is poopy pants also.

  68. Josh the Baptist says:

    Which is different from your part of every thread ever on this blog?

  69. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    ya gotta admit – I hit a nerve. Perhaps I am right in my analysis. Notice you have not said what was incorrect in my analysis. Dispens… oops, I need to call them the rapture theology folks, as dispensational or evangelical are off the table for analysis – what was wrong with my anti christ rapture theology assessment vs what the Bible actually says about being aware and who / what is the anti christ.

  70. John 20:29 says:

    #50 makes a good point to ponder… we in America U.S.A. proudly declare all men are created equal when in fact we aren’t… we should all see each other of equal value, but even Scripture declares that there is a hierarchy of mankind… and there certainly is one in heaven… that said, i don’t we humans are very good at managing that hierarchy

    MLD’s statements on dispensations tells me that we don’t have the same teaching on the subject or else he is twisting facts to make his point? dunno

  71. Josh the Baptist says:

    Alright – I’ll lay out the lunacy here:

    Jean @ 24 notes a decline in the American church and wonders if there is a beginning reason for that decline.

    OF course, you and he both point out the same things that you point out in every other thread on this blog.

    It is then shown, however, that those things are declining much slower than your alternatives.

    The answer is then “You can’t judge truth by numbers.”
    And “If you are declining, you are actually following the truth.”

    A monumental moving of the goalposts, but that is par for the course.

    So let’s change the discussion to “the American church is in decline, and that is exactly where it should be!”

    Right?

  72. Josh the Baptist says:

    MLD – you just stated your view as did I.

    One or both may be completely looney.

  73. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – why do you make up quotes no one said? Common tactic in some circles.

  74. Josh the Baptist says:

    You can scroll back up for the full quote. I was paraphrasing for time.

  75. Josh the Baptist says:

    I’ll assume these are the quotes you are protesting:

    (1)The answer is then “You can’t judge truth by numbers.”
    And (2)“If you are declining, you are actually following the truth.”

    (1) Please refer to Jean’s # 60
    (2) Refer to MLD’s # 63

  76. Michael says:

    I think the claim could be easily made that dispensationalism actually revitalized the church throughout the 20th century.

  77. Duane Arnold says:

    #61 Josh

    “How is it that we are measuring the decline of American Christianity in this thread?”

    I’m not sure about others, but for me it is a composite – numbers of those who attend and support local churches, cultural influence, retention of the next generation, the health of seminaries, average age of clergy, etc.

    I don’t consider this as wholly a corporate model, as much as a common sense “reality check”. For example, if you are having more funerals than baptisms, you might have a problem.

    Another example might be that outside our church walls (as well as within some) the Church has, in large measure, lost the argument concerning sexual morality to society at large. It’s even difficult in some churches to make the argument for traditional moral standards. We can say it’s not true, but we know better. I simply think we need to do a better job at addressing some of these issues, without sounding as though we’re yelling at the kids to “get off my lawn”.

  78. Josh the Baptist says:

    Duane,

    Do you have an idea for why the church in Jerusalem declined as the church in Antioch grew?

    No trick question. I think there may be something to learn from geographical church movements throughout history.

  79. Duane Arnold says:

    #76 Michael

    You know, I came to Christ, along with thousands of others, in a church that taught dispensationalism. While I don’t hold that view today, I don’t think it did me irreparable harm…

  80. Josh the Baptist says:

    I think Dispensationalism is prone to error like any other system.

  81. John 20:29 says:

    dispensations merely describe the terms of God’s dealing with His creation [man] as it has changed thru the differing periods in history:
    Creation, Fall, Abraham & patriarchs = gentile disp. …
    Moses’ exodus to birth of Christ = Israel disp. …
    birth to death of Jesus Christ = disp. of the incarnation …
    resurrection of Jesus to rapture of Church = Church disp. …
    now at this point those who say there is no removal of the Church before the intensified years of tribulation would bow out, i believe…
    those who believe [interpret Scripture to indicate] that God does not allow His Church to go thru that period and those who believe in a millennial reign of Christ over mortals subsequent to the Tribulation see another disp. yet ahead of us
    i don’t see a problem with defining the changes in God’s dealing with men over history as dispensations… rather the problem shows up in interpreting the prophecies for the years yet ahead of us as i have read the comments here over the years… Dispensation is not a bad word 🙂

  82. Michael says:

    Duane,
    God uses all sorts of things that irritate me for His glory. 🙂
    I’m waiting to load wood and thinking of all the people I know who came the same way you did as well as the impact on Christian publishing, broadcasting, and music.
    I don’t like the system, but it obviously contained the Gospel.

  83. Duane Arnold says:

    #79 Josh

    Yes, the Roman destruction of the city and the subsequent putting down of the bar-Kokhba revolt effectively destroyed the unique Judeo-Christian communities of Jerusalem, although it appears the geographic move to Antioch was already in the works. (I think there is even some mention in Josephus concerning this.)

    Does that help?

  84. Josh the Baptist says:

    AS em has correctly pointed out, dispensastionalism itself is just a grid though which to view different periods in scripture.

    It can be helpful.

    There can, however, be an unhealthy imbalance towards certain parts. No question.

  85. Duane Arnold says:

    #82 Michael

    I think of so many friends of 45 years – David, our mutual friend, Duke and so many others – their fruit has remained…

  86. Josh the Baptist says:

    Duane @ 83 – I think so. The facts definitely help. Thinking about how it applies…

  87. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “There can, however, be an unhealthy imbalance towards certain parts. No question.”

    Like what I brought up.

    Many think that Todd Bentley revitalized the church 10 yrs ago … so?

  88. John 20:29 says:

    Josh the B. an unhealthy imbalance has plagued the Church and maybe the periods preceding also … man’s ability to manage what God has given us permeates our history…
    Some 2,000 years ago Israel thought it for the good of all men that one man should die… their thought process was demented, but, somehow, their declaration was still correct…

    I don’t see how anyone who is a Christian and a historian can be anything but stunned at God’s genius; His ability to carry His plan right on through all that Satan can throw at it

  89. Josh the Baptist says:

    “Like what I brought up.”

    No argument, except that I pointed out the gross imbalance in your own group.

  90. Duane Arnold says:

    #86 Josh

    In Rome on the Arch of Titus, you can still see the triumphal procession celebrating the destruction of the Temple and the city. Roman soldiers are carrying the menorah from the Temple through the streets of Rome – eventually to be melted down to finance the building of the Colosseum. I wonder what the Jews and Christians in Rome thought about the “last days” as they witnessed this happening? I don’t know if there are any written accounts or reflections…

  91. John 20:29 says:

    God bless MLD for picking the dross out of the gold of God’s people today… we will probably always have the Bentleys and not all of them are intentionally corrupt; some are just stupid people with charisma leading stupid people who are shallow and untaught rabble looking for hope … some are even Believers… just my humble opinion

  92. Josh the Baptist says:

    “I wonder what the Jews and Christians in Rome thought about the “last days” as they witnessed this happening?”

    Oh yeah, crazy times for sure. I’m betting the Christians thought they “missed it” so to speak.

  93. John 20:29 says:

    #27- Paige posted the words to a hymn that has been circling round and round in my brain for a couple weeks now… God must be trying to get something thru to us… such a beautiful declaration

  94. Br Paul says:

    Do not know if these are “canary” but these are places the church is behind.

    Women’s suffrage: What church do not allow women in all places of participation and leadership?
    Civil Rights movement: What church do not allow all people in places of participation and leadership?
    Technology: What churches do not communicate and provide transparence in everything?

    Youth expect organizations to not discriminate and answer their questions. Organization that do not do this are not growing and developing and do not have a future in the next few hundred years.

  95. Duane Arnold says:

    #92 Josh

    If you could find any literature on this, it would make a remarkable research paper…

  96. Josh the Baptist says:

    @ 95 – Great minds…

    Well, 1 great mind (your’s) and 1 pretty OK mind…think alike…or something.

    🙂

    Anyway, I was just thinking the same thing.

  97. Josh the Baptist says:

    @ 94 – I clinked on the link in your signature and see no women?

  98. Xenia says:

    #97 Not too many people of color, either.

  99. Michael says:

    Welcome Bro. Paul… jump right in. 🙂

  100. ( |o )====::: says:

    Br Paul,
    Thanks for your cogent observation about the condition of the church.

    Please ignore those who would seek to silence or disqualify your views simply because you are a member of the Order of Saint Francis.

    May you be at peace as you love and serve Jesus, faithful to your calling.

  101. Josh the Baptist says:

    I’m cool with whatever he is…

    It was just surprising considering his post. Perhaps he is an agent of change?

  102. ( |o )====::: says:

    We are all agents of change, for better or worse.

    #JesusNeedsNewPR

  103. ( |o )====::: says:

    The rediscovery of the contemplative life and it’s edifying effect within the church is long overdue.

  104. Josh the Baptist says:

    I just didn’t understand.

    Maybe he was saying the answer to the questions he asked is the guys in his link?

  105. ( |o )====::: says:

    This is awesome, Br Paul…

    “How is a religious life defined?

    In essence, it is the vocation of devoting one’s life completely to God. Our Order defines a “religious life” as a commitment to Christ and our fellow human beings, lived out in a disciplined manner, in accordance with the Gospel and the spiritual teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, as a witness for the Anglican Communion. We observe the Daily Offices, attend weekly Eucharist, and uphold the vows of our Order: poverty, chastity, and obedience. We believe that each of us is called to apply the unique gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit, toward the love and betterment of all God’s people.”

    Thank you for your love for Jesus as expressed by the life commitment you have made.

    Please say a prayer for each here that there would be the profound discovery of the contemplative life you have embraced, and that the presence of Jesus would move each to a warmth for greater and diverse community.

  106. ( |o )====::: says:

    “And after the Lord gave me some brothers, no one showed me what to do; but the Most High revealed to me that I was to live according to the manner of the Holy Gospel”

    Long ago I dismissed the wranglings and decided to seek the same, to “live according to the manner of the Holy Gospel”.

    It was the best choice I made concerning being a follower of Jesus.

  107. Duane Arnold says:

    If anyone here is looking for an “agent of change”… you could not do better than St. Francis. Just saying…

  108. Xenia says:

    I apologize to Br Paul. To be honest, I did not understand his post and since that was the case, I should not have commented.

    My apologies.

    Welcome to the Phoenix Preacher!

    God bless,
    Xenia

  109. Michael says:

    If I understood Bro. Paul correctly, he was commenting on the greater church.
    He has a point, one that has been affirmed by others researching the issue.

  110. Josh the Baptist says:

    I did not understand either, and was asking a clarifying question. His order looks fascinating. I hope he’ll pop back in and discuss.

  111. Jean says:

    The reason I used the “canary” metaphor is because up until relatively recently coal minors in some areas used canaries as an early warning mechanism for the presence of deadly gases in the underground tunnels of coal mines. A gas, such as carbon monoxide, undetectable to humans, would kill the canary acting as a alarm for the minors.

    It’s not a perfect metaphor. However, something(s) is now killing our churches. My original question asked whether there was something analogous to a canary, which the church missed, but which in this case was an early victim of the deadly gas (or doctrine) which is killing our churches.

    The reason that numbers say nothing about the state of the true Church is that the church is made up of wheat and tares. Therefore, numbers can’t tell you the number of wheat in any church.

    MLD made the point that many disciples abandoned Jesus in John 6 because he stopped feeding them the free bread and refused to give them a sign. Had he done the opposite, i.e., given them more free food or showed them signs, that wouldn’t mean these tares became wheat; it only means that stayed in the pews longer.

  112. Michael says:

    This “my sect is better than your sect” nonsense gets us nowhere.

    We disagree on a lot of stuff.

    Most of us have found homes in Christendom that fit us…that doesn’t mean every other home on the block is defective.

    I can argue against dispensationalism (or any other group) all day or I can affirm that their representatives here are believed brethren and children of the same God.

    A great day is when we can do both. 🙂

    God has used every expression of the faith represented here and more…because underneath the differences there is a common Gospel.

  113. Josh the Baptist says:

    “However, something(s) is now killing our churches.”

    What do you mean?

  114. Michael says:

    Last time I checked, God still works through a remnant… and I see lots of that remnant here every day.

  115. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Sacramental churches aren’t doing any better than others in the U.S.

    Now, in Africa and South America, Anglicanism is exploding.

    Thus, I look to cultural factors.

  116. Jean says:

    Michael,

    I don’t speak for the abstract category of “sacramental churches.” What I see in my tradition is the two pronged attack of secular humanism from one side and seeker sensitive, entertainment driven evangelicalism on the other. In other words, we are being attacked from without as well as within the “family.” Our families are “evangelized” by evangelicals who want to “save” our members from the “superstitions” of the historic Christian church.

  117. Josh the Baptist says:

    Jean – in what way is something “killing our churches”?

    Decline in numbers?

    Are you only referring to LCMS churches?

  118. Michael says:

    Jean,

    And your tradition attacks everybody else for what you see as their errors…so they can claim the same attacks from within and without…

    Thus, I advocate a healthy ecumenism that supports the family and stands against the world that rejects the Gospel…

  119. Duane Arnold says:

    Sorry, but I think numbers issue is important. I will say again, if you are having more funerals than baptisms, you have a problem. If your young people are leaving after confirmation or when they go off to school, you have a problem. If seminary enrollments are shrinking, you have a problem. If the average age of your clergy is 57, or 60, or 61… you have a problem. This is not rocket science.

    Again, if there ever was a “culture war” we have lost it. Ozzie and Harriet are not coming back, nor are the well regulated, full pews and bursting confirmation classes of the 1950s.

    I often think our nostalgia for something that is gone, whether Calvary Chapel in 1970 or the Episcopal Church in 1955, blinds us to what we need to be doing in the here and now.

  120. Xenia says:

    >>> if you are having more funerals than baptisms, you have a problem.

    I think another way to look at it is this: If you have more funerals than weddings, you have a problem.

  121. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Sorry, but I think numbers issue is important. I will say again, if you are having more funerals than baptisms, you have a problem”

    So has the holy spirit fallen asleep at the wheel? I was counting on him fixing us up as it has been obvious from the beginning of the church, we can’t do it right. Look how Adam & Eve screwed up the very first Christian church service.

    Somebody please go over and shake the holy spirit awake!!

  122. Michael says:

    “So has the holy spirit fallen asleep at the wheel?”

    Does the Holy Spirit always work outside of human agency or do we have responsibility within the church to acknowledge our issues and work with Him for solutions?

  123. Duane Arnold says:

    #120 Xenia

    Indeed…

  124. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Methods are not what builds a church.
    We get into such messes when we say “Holy Spirit, hold my beer and watch this.”

  125. Duane Arnold says:

    #122 Michael

    I would simply say, churches grow when they are faithful stewards of the Gospel…

  126. dusty says:

    Having a good discussion here today. Good job everyone

  127. Br Paul says:

    #97

    My local sisters can be found in the Little Sister of St. Clare (http://www.stclarelittlesisters.org)

    Within my Order there is always been a conversation about having women in the Order. I am sure it will continue. It is one place we are still traditional at this time. The Anglican communion has women in leadership in some places of the world (Katharine Jefferts Schori/ Libby Lane) and not in others (Polygamy still practiced).

    #101

    I have hope for the future of the church. Understanding the past and opportunities today creates the actions of tomorrow.

    #103

    “In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic (one who has experienced God for real) or nothing at all.” ― Karl Rahner

    #109

    Very much the greater church. I attend liturgical churches, practice what is available in my neighborhood and travels and can have a conversation about agreement and division with any of it all. Taking sides in my experience creates separation. Listening to someone creates a relationship.

    #111

    Spirit is creating outside of the church as well as within the church. Discernment is our opportunity.

  128. John 20:29 says:

    “Discernment is our opportunity” . . We should all pray for discernment, for God the Holy Spirit to work in us … Amen

    Perhaps the canary is dying by strangulation? The world today seems to want to turn us all into robots programmed to achieve the greater good … Trouble is, who is defining “good?”

  129. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “I would simply say, churches grow when they are faithful stewards of the Gospel…”

    There it is in a nutshell.

    It takes trust, patience and endurance to be a faithful steward.

  130. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Who Builds a Church?
    It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. No man builds the church but Christ alone. Whoever is minded to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it; for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess – he builds. We must proclaim – he builds. We must pray to him – that he may build.

    We do not know his plans. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point of view are great times for the church are times when it is pulled down.

    It is a great comfort which Christ gives to his church: you confess, preach, bear witness to me and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is my province. Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions. Don’t ask for judgments. Don’t always be calculating what will happen. Don’t always be on the lookout for another refuge! Church, stay a church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord; from his grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  131. Jean says:

    Em,

    “those who believe in a millennial reign of Christ over mortals subsequent to the Tribulation see another disp.”

    Where does Christ set up his administration? Is it in the White House since no doubt Trump will have been raptured out, right?

  132. Josh the Baptist says:

    The raptured church is back for the millenial kingdom.

  133. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    It must really be a let down to leave heaven and now share quarters with mortal Jews who have finally passed the test.
    Now that would be a book for Mark Hitchcock to write — “millennial roommates – the real odd couple.” 🙂

  134. Jean says:

    or “Friends without benefits: The Millennial Edition”.

  135. Josh the Baptist says:

    Yeah, 1,000 years in the presence of Christ would be awful…wait. No it wouldn’t.

  136. John 20:29 says:

    #131 – “Where does Christ set up his administration? Isn’t the obvious answer, anywhere He wants? 😼

  137. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Weren’t they already in the presence of Jesus in heaven?

  138. Josh the Baptist says:

    Yes.

  139. Josh the Baptist says:

    @136 – Dispies usually say in Jerusalem.

  140. John 20:29 says:

    A far better story than the one suggested by MLD and Jean (who seem to be enjoying their flight of fancy tonight) would be one titled “A Thousand Years of Absolutes Demonstrating God’s Ability to Govern” subtitled Ending in a Big Bang – A Really Big One … 😸,

    With no desire to convert a non millennialist, I would still suggest a ponder on the theory that these thousand years of Christ the Dictator and the subsequent rebellion leaves mankind without the excuse, “I just didn’t understand.” The rationale in my mind for this scenario. ..
    BTW, if it plays out this way, you’ll be part of an occupying army, not one of the citizens …. so maybe you’ll get time off to return to heaven for R&R 😽

  141. John 20:29 says:

    #139… I’ve always suspected that this is the peace of Jerusalem that we’re to pray for … dunno, tho

  142. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em was correct earlier in the day. I guess I do misrepresent our rapture theology friends – but it was out of ignorance.
    I had no idea that the millennial reign of Jesus was a military occupation against the occupants of millennial Jerusalem.
    I am dumbfounded – but I will include that in my presentations.

  143. Josh the Baptist says:

    yeah, you do that.

    Or you could read a book.

  144. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, Em corrected me with the real millennial military position.
    Are you disagreeing with her?

  145. John 20:29 says:

    MLD, sigh… you remind me of my late mother… she, too, had a supernatural ability to exaggerate… 🙆
    The millennial reign of Christ is not against the world’s population, not even Jerusalem’s….
    We’d probably be in agreement in interpreting what is described in Rev. 19:11-16, just not in what comes afterward… If I’m not mistaken, your tribe says the event ushers in the new heavens and earth… what seems clear to me, however, is that it starts the millennial reign – after which comes the new heavens and earth…
    Either way is an improvement

  146. John 20:29 says:

    Josh, feel free to disagree with me anytime … you are an honest man. 😊

  147. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, I don’t see how I exaggerate – you labeled Jesus as a dictator, me as an occupying force and others as citizens.

  148. The New Victor says:

    My observation as a mostly lurker: LCMS responses seem kind of Asperger’s-ish…

    In any case, I think analysis of the decline of Christianity in Europe, even given the historical differences, provides a clue. I’d say Modernism, or post-modernism, as Jean alluded to, is the root.

    Second and third world nations (China, as an example of the latter, by the original definitions) are seeing explosive growth. Why?

    I can’t help but think that Jesus came to save the lost. The First World might be the modern equivalent of the Pharisees and Saducees. They don’t feel that they need saving, comfortable in their positions and world views. As back then, the current crop looks down on the poor peasants as being ignorant. Of course they embrace superstition now; they don’t know better. Once they become free in their minds to First World principles, they will slough off those chains.

  149. John 20:29 says:

    Well, MLD, you’re leaving out your conclusion that our Lord’s reign (and, therefore, our presence) is AGAINST Jerusalem… no one is left on planet earth after our Lord’s return to conquer and reign but Believers, however, the mortals continue to procreate and not all the mortals born during those thousand years will accept Christ…. when God destroys the old earth – your timing of mine – there will be rebel unbelievers who perish with it

    have you read any good scholarly material on the Millenium? Forgive me, but it doesn’t sound like you have anywhere near a clear understanding of the more academic view of the theory…. Michael could probably suggest something 😶

  150. John 20:29 says:

    #148 – FWIW – 👍 👍

  151. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, read them all, used to own them all up to 6 mo ago when I thinned my library for my move. Had a shelf of 27 books just from the guys at Dallas – Walvoord, Pentecost, Ryrie, even some of the young bucks who were writing in the later 90s – you name it, I read it.
    So there is sin going on in Jesus’ Kingdom? Will people be in jail?
    In the morning, can you point me to some of those scripture references?

  152. John 20:29 says:

    No, there’s no sin IN God’s kingdom. However, the world is not ever perfect … thus its eventual destruction

    MLD, there’s no point in perusing this further, you’ve read everything already, your comprehension is either limited or you’re enjoying misstating what you’ve read – 27 books? I’m sure I cannot improve your frame of reference here and this dance is getting tedious. 😐

    God keep

  153. Josh the Baptist says:

    MLD, I’ll send you a nice colorful flow chart so you can keep it all straight 🙂

    Paul, thanks for coming back to clarify.

  154. Josh the Baptist says:

    Just actually clicked on Merritt’s article. That is funny.

    The launch of ChurchClarity “rocked the evangelical world”?

    After a statement that inaccurate, you can safely ignore the rest.

  155. Josh the Baptist says:

    “The one place that I do believe changes should come is in bringing more opportunities to people of color in the church.”

    This one is a little different. This is not a case, necessarily, of blacks being kept out, but that they have their own churches, and many are doing very, very well.

    Now, the fact that worship is largely segregated is a giant shame, but has absolutely nothing to do with this report.

  156. ( |o )====::: says:

    “The world today seems to want to turn us all into robots programmed to achieve the greater good … Trouble is, who is defining “good?”

    I’ll take a humanistic defined “greater good” over what passed the white American Evangelical definition

    #JesusNeedsNewPR

  157. Josh the Baptist says:

    What is the humanist definition of good?

    What about the black evangelical definition?

  158. John 20:29 says:

    G., yours is the popular view today… If you believe as I do that the human race is flawed and prone to rationalizing – among other things, good and bad, then humanism is a treacherous, if well intentioned approach…

    my example was the Sanhedrin who justified their conclusion that killing Jesus was for the greater good… from our viewpoint, we can say that they were religious zealots whose thinking was colored by their own sense of self importance – importance that they perceived Jesus’ teaching was putting at risk…

    can we say that today white American Evangelicals fit the same mold of self importance? well, yes, some do – as did some Popes of eras now past – as do some religious leaders of “people of color” (stupid term) today… we need discernment, but we’re prone to broadbrush… if I’d completed a painting, stood back to study it and decided it needed some color I wouldn’t go grab a large brush and paint a big yellow x across the whole thing… well… some might do that, dunno… art has rules of its own, I guess 🙂

    where we get into dangerous territory is our use of labels … sadly, there aren’t many folk who are Believers today who have known the “white American Evangelicals” (and the black American Evangelicals) of the past… men and women of highest principles and integrity, God fearing and God worshipping people… they and the R.C.s and other Christians were the iron in the soul of this nation for some generations
    (I’m aware that we had an element – still do – that aren’t happy unless they can discriminate against those that they decide are lesser than themselves and they come in all skin colors, BTW)
    we live in a time where iconoclasts are the heroes wearing the mantle of humanism… trouble is the iconoclasts are flawed humans, too – they seem to love labels and labels are dangerous ….

    at least that’s the way it looks from here – pontificating attack over

  159. ( |o )====::: says:

    I’m a humanist because the species tends toward self-realization, self improvement, innovation and social justice.

    Religion, ours included is slow on the uptake, far too often ignoring science, sociology, and common sense.

    The Enlightenment thinkers gave us a system of beliefs which are being fine-tuned with each generation. We have aberrations like white supremacy, antisemitism, male privilege and white privilege which have been emboldened by the GOP/Evangelicals.

    We also have learned from our mistakes such as sitting out our elections which resulted in the soulless GOP gutting social safety nets, giving $$$ to the rich, and the Twit-In-Chief being in power for a limited time.

    #resist

  160. Josh the Baptist says:

    Gop are part of the species too.

  161. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    LOL, white supremacy, antisemitism, male privilege, and white privilege were not aberrations of the Enlightenment, they were the desired product of the Enlightenment soon to be codified in the founding documents of our nation.
    Humanist left to their own become ISIS like the rest of us.
    Chicago of today is the product of humanism.

  162. John 20:29 says:

    G, your hearts are in the right place concerning the welfare of your fellow man…

    The big question probably is, which ultimately makes the best ruler? Our hearts, our heads or the Creator of both?

    God keep

  163. Josh the Baptist says:

    Everyone wants love and unity, but thinks the way to get that is to kill the opposition.

    Sad and ironic.

  164. Josh the Baptist says:

    The world would be better off if it weren’t for (insert name of group different than me).

  165. The New Victor says:

    The human species tends towards sin and violation of what James calls the The Royal Law. Human history is drenched in blood, and it’s still happening. Humanism breaks the first commandment without even pretending not to do so; it denies God a priori.

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