The “evangelical circus” that Michael Spencer wrote about is but one facet of the “American circus.” I don’t think any of these individual stories is worth an entire post, but together, they shine a light on some of the silliness that is shining forth here in the good ol’ USA and among Americans who profess faith.
I’m so tired of all the silliness that I’m leaving town, taking my sons to Chicago today to watch the Cubs play. I need a dose of “get away” in the light of the craziness that passes for news and analysis and “teaching” these days.
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I am seriously flummoxed. Donald Trump? Really? I keep hearing about how he is “striking a chord” with so many Americans, and I say, if there is any resonance with what Donald Trump stands for and says among thoughtful people in the United States, I’m going to emigrate.
If Harold Camping were alive and predicting this September as the date of the Rapture, I’d seriously be tempted to believe him, simply to find a way out. This is silliness of the highest order.
I was in a time of prayer several weeks ago when God began to speak to me concerning the destiny of Donald Trump in America. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger.“
Excuse me, I’m going to be sick.
At Yahoo! Politics, Amy Sullivan asks why white evangelicals are supporting Trump (recent polls show him leading all other Republican candidates among this demographic). Her answer is on target, I think:
If Donald Trump’s momentum continues, it will be in large part because evangelicals decided they would rather hear a Yankee showman preach outrage than one of their own sing from the same old hymnal.
Snake oil apparently still sells around here, if you push it hard enough to people who think, for some reason, they are desperate.
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You know John Piper has said something supremely silly when people in his own tradition start piling on.
A woman named Beth wrote him and asked if it would be proper for a single Christian woman, who is a “complementarian,” to think of becoming a police officer.
- First of all, who thinks like that?
- Second, who asks a pastor that question?
- Third, who thinks a pastor, with Bible in hand, has any basis for answering it?
- Fourth, why would the pastor himself even think he was qualified to answer it?
Here’s the basis Piper gave for speaking to the question.
I have tried to wrestle with the Scriptures which is, I hope and pray, my final authority in these matters. And I have come up with a general definition of what I think the heart of mature manhood and the heart of mature womanhood are. And then I have argued these and spelled them out in a little book called What’s the Difference? And these are really foundational for me and they helped me answer a lot of questions.
So, the ultimate basis is the Bible, but it’s the Bible filtered through John Piper’s interpretation that led him to defining manhood and womanhood. Note: it’s not the Bible that defines these things — it is John Piper, based on his reading of the Bible.
Now, here’s the heart of his answer:
At the heart of mature manhood is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships. The postman won’t relate to the lady at the door the way a husband will, but he will be a man. At the heart of mature womanhood is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.
…To the degree that a woman’s influence over a man, guidance of a man, leadership of a man, is personal and a directive, it will generally offend a man’s good, God-given sense of responsibility and leadership, and thus controvert God’s created order. To an extent, a woman’s leadership or influence may be personal and non-directive or directive and non-personal, but I don’t think we should push the limits.
…If a woman’s job involves a good deal of directives toward men, they will need to be non-personal in general, or men and women won’t flourish in the long run in that relationship without compromising profound biblical and psychological issues. And conversely, if a woman’s relationship to a man is very personal, then the way she offers guidance and influence will need to be more non-directive. And my own view is that there are some roles in society that will strain godly manhood and womanhood to the breaking point.
Well, there’s a lot I could say, but I’ll leave it to some good folks who happen to also hold to a traditional, conservative position on male/female roles. The best response, in my book, came from Carl Trueman at Westminster Seminary. I can’t do any better than his evaluation: sheer silliness.
I rarely read complementarian literature these days. I felt it lost its way when it became an all-embracing view of the world and not simply a matter for church and household. I am a firm believer in a male-only ordained ministry in the church but I find increasingly bizarre the broader cultural crusade which complementarianism has become. It seems now to be more a kind of reaction against feminism than a balanced exposition of the Bible’s teaching on the relationships of men and women. Thus, for example, marriage is all about submission of wife to husband (Eph. 5) and rarely about the delight of friendship and the kind of playful but subtly expressed eroticism we find in the Song of Songs. Too often cultural complementarianism ironically offers a rather disenchanted and mundane account of the mystery and beauty of male-female relations. And too often it slides into sheer silliness.
I might also say that I have a female cousin with whom I spent a day in July, riding with her as she made rounds in her police cruiser. She’s strong, gifted, responsible, and good at her work of being a police officer. I would happily take guidance from her any day, and I’m happy that she’s one of the people protecting her city.
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And what shall we say of . . .
A topless parade in New York City to advocate for the rights of bare-chested panhandlers in Times Square?
The “prophet” who stood up in the middle of a John MacArthur sermon and delivered a message from God against MacArthur’s cessationist position?
The strange testimony of Ben Carson, who said God came to him in a dream the night before a chemistry exam and showed him the problems and their solutions, which he then reproduced successfully on his test the next day?
The newest competition show, “So You Think You Can Preach,” on which the winner gets “$25,000, a new car and a lifetime opening at the pulpit of at least two unnamed megachurches.”
The news these days in the U.S. is, by and large, a huge wasteland of silliness.
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In the midst of all this silliness, how refreshing to read about how Jimmy Carter did what he’s done for decades on Sunday: teach Sunday School. At age 90. With metastatic cancer. Just three days after his first radiation treatment.
Wish I could have been there. Would have done me good.