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We had 17 posts that generated over 200 comments each this year. Of course, not every post gets that much discussion. Some are written primarily as meditations or studies. We hope those articles are read carefully and that they will be an encouragement to those who digest them. We also know that they don’t usually provoke a lot of controversy and debate.
But there are other posts — yes, those posts! — that prompt conversations in which we are able to have lively dialogue, debate, and agreeable disagreement; discussion which can help us discern how to think more clearly and develop a better understanding of some aspect of life and faith. That’s when it gets fun.
So, without further ado, here are the posts that generated 200 or more responses in 2011.
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200 Comments. “Worship Music: A Further Discussion” (7/6, Chaplain Mike)
After running Michael Spencer’s classic series on “Worship, CCM, and the Worship Music Revolution,” we built upon his insights and brought the discussion up to date, looking at the CCLI Top 25 worship songs churches are singing and making some general observations about the state of music in evangelical churches today.
201 Comments. “Welcome to This World” (10/19, Craig Bubeck)
While I was on sabbatical, IM welcomed Craig Bubeck as a contributor. He made a big splash right away, posting a video that has been making the rounds on the internet characterizing the Christian worldview as a cruel message to those entering the human family. Craig gave his own thoughtful response and you joined in with enthusiasm.
204 Comments. “Works-Righteousness by Any Other Name Still Stinks” (1/3, Chaplain Mike)
We got off to a strong start last January. Four of our most discussed posts ran during that first month. This one was a rant against the assurance-destroying sermonizing of Mike Bickle at the International House of Prayer. He recounted a dream in which he stood ashamed before Christ, filled with regret for not being totally sold-out to him. Brother, if it depends on our commitment, we’re all sunk. “It is finished!” is good enough for me.
204 Comments. “A New ‘Emerging’ Church” (9/27, Chaplain Mike)
I have not yet learned how to talk very well about the subject of homosexuality and the church, but I keep trying. This was an Open Mic discussion about a gay church that is now attempting to broaden their ministry so that straights (and everyone) might feel welcome in their midst. It was interesting to me that they recognized within themselves certain forms of intolerance and were now trying to correct things. As often happens, the discussion got sidetracked as tensions rose and walls went up. Someday, we’ll be able to talk about this. I don’t think we’ll have a choice.
208 Comments. “Top Ten Things People Hate about the Catholic Church” (10/27, Martha of Ireland)
When the cat’s away, Martha will play! One of the best things for IM readers about my sabbatical was that everyone got to hear more from our sister across the pond. In this post, she only actually got through five reasons we hate the Mother Church, but if she had just expounded on her point, “We don’t know what we believe, but we’re pretty sure that it’s better than what you believe,” this one would have still made the top posts list.
221 Comments. “Ranting and Raving” (1/13, Jeff Dunn)
The bossman decided to do a little ranting of his own early last year. This time Jeff Dunn took on the vision of “Jesus the Self-Help Guru” that is being promoted by folks like Dave Ramsey and Rick Warren. Jeff had a few choice words for churches who abandon their calling to minister like Jesus did in order to help folks gain wealth and drop weight.
224 Comments. “Time to Leave Behind the Rapture” (5/20, Chaplain Mike)
The Harold Camping rapture debacles were big news last year. In this post, I tell the story of my journey through dispensationalism and out the other side, to a saner, more Christ-centered eschatology that doesn’t require a puzzle master to put all the pieces together. Discarding this cartoon theology would do wonders for the American church. Not that I feel strongly about it or anything.
226 Comments. “What Has Changed?” (1/4, Chaplain Mike)
How many people does it take to staff the program of the local church? We compared what Richard Halverson said back in the 1960’s with what today’s megachurches are saying. Why does it take twice as many people to “do church” as it did fifty years ago?
255 Comments. “Driscoll, Masculinity, and the Missional Church” (7/19, Chaplain Mike)
This is the post in which I try to cut Mark Driscoll some slack. Taking him at his word, I try to understand why the issue of masculinity is so personally important to him, and why he stresses it in his ministry. His approach is still not for me, and I’m sure his fans will still count me among the “haters.” Stay tuned.
262 Comments. “Official Historian of the Culture War (for the Right)” (5/11, Chaplain Mike)”
Don’t look now, but another election year is dawning. Oh boy. Here’s hoping people like David Barton, the subject of this article, continue to get more scrutiny. Barton, self-appointed “historian,” has been accused of distorting history and then using it to advance a narrow political agenda. He’s the Ken Ham of history.
269 Comments. “Anger at the Poor” (9/15, Damaris Zehner)
Why are Americans (including Christians) so angry at poor people? What is a genuine Christian response to the poor? Damaris raised these thought-provoking questions and got a lot of feedback. It’s uncomfortable to examine our anger and find out the problem may lie more with us than the people toward whom we are expressing our rage.
275 Comments. “Difficult Scriptures: the Genocidal God?” – (1/28, Chaplain Mike)
How do you handle Biblical texts in which God commands his people to exterminate entire nations or populations? Is God a purveyor of genocide? We watched a video of Tremper Longman as he explained his perspective, and then discussed our own thoughts on this difficult matter.
279 Comments. “Whatever Happened to…Bill Gothard?” (6/15, Chaplain Mike)
This was one of my favorite conversations of the year. Gothard was a huge influence on my early Christian life, and then I realized how much he was manipulating the Scriptures to promote his own “principles.” Thankfully, I found much better teaching that helped me stay grounded. In this discussion, we heard from a lot of folks who suffered deep wounds from the Gothard movement and its various offshoots.
280 Comments. “Major Megachurch Maniacal Missional Madness!” (6/28, Chaplain Mike)
Soon to come to your area: an off-site campus of a major megachurch. We critiqued the “franchising” of the church and discussed why in the world anyone thinks this is a good idea. In case you wondered, I’m not a fan.
283 Comments. “I’m Speechless, How Do You Respond?” (2/25, Chaplain Mike)
John MacArthur criticizes those rising up against authoritarian rule in the Middle East, stating that they are disobeying the Biblical commands about obeying civil authorities. I’m still speechless.
299 Comments. “Someone Has to Put a Foot Down” (8/30, Chaplain Mike)
“This song is starting a revolution. Simply singing it can change your heart. Continue singing it throughout your day and you find yourself intimately in God’s presence.” That’s what some are writing about the popular worship song, “How He Loves”. I found it inscrutable and insufferable, albeit with a catchy melody. This is the “best” of today’s worship music? Come on, pastors, put your foot down!
332 Comments. “Let’s Discuss…Baptism” (5/25, Chaplain Mike)
The number one most-discussed post of the year came in the form of a good, old-fashioned theological conversation about a sacrament — baptism. Surprise! Surprise! With all the craziness of the evangelical circus, with all the news and events and trends, what you wanted to talk about most is as basic and traditional as it gets.
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Thank you for a wonderful year of stimulating, enlightening, encouraging, and challenging discussion. In 2012, this iMonk train will continue moving strong down the track. Hop on board and join the fun!