October Open Mic

October Open Mic

Monday was a long day on the road and at the ballgame for me (and thus apologies for the long delay in approving system-moderated comments). At any rate, getting home late prevented me from putting a full-blown post together, so I’ll turn it over to you folks today.

Play nice, and have good conversations today

109 thoughts on “October Open Mic

  1. Trump is not the devil, but he is vile beyond description, a vicious schoolyard bully invested with the powers of the most powerful office on the planet, an accomplished practitioner of soullessness and heartlessness. His mockery of professor Ford is so disgusting it turns the stomach. And the deplorable (that’s the right world) audience that laughed and ate up his mockery of her, and wanted more, is cut from the same cloth as those that would applaud and cheer a public execution, a hanging or crucifixion. Disgusting.


  2. Christians have a sexual obsession about Pelvic Issues. They’re just as messed up sexually as the rest of us, just in a different direction. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

    “A cold, self-righteous prig can be far closer to Hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is best to be neither.:
    — C.S.Lewis


  3. What is going on with our evangelicals, I wonder???? I know many of them are good and decent people who would NEVER act like Trump or say the things he says and yet they fall down before in in adoration as their political leader..

    They’ve Taken the Mark on their foreheads and right hands just like in a bad Christian Apocalyptic movie. You remember the shtick — once The Mark goes on they become instantly, utterly loyal unto death and beyond.

    “I Give Donald Trump Praise and Adoration.”
    — that Bible-spouting troll on Eagle’s blog

    And something either Lewis or Chesterton remarked about diabolism and sorcery — summoned Devils have a reputation for Getting Things Done. If you want Results…(Like overturning Roe v Wade, putting Prayer Back In Schools, and Returning Us to A Christian Nation?)

    But also (and I’m pretty sure this is Lewis), “The Devil will gladly cure your cold if he can give you cancer.”


  4. Trump and Kavanaugh are playing the same game, the game of Power, of never giving up. Truth be damned.

    The Game of Thrones.

    “A crown based on lies,


  5. For the life of me, I still find it hard to fathom why otherwise rational and morally endowed humans would want to worship such a cruel and petulant god.


  6. Stephen, both paragraphs of yours explain the “Trump is LORD!” phenomenon among Court Evangelicals. Since their POV IS “sucking up to the big boss man” who wants to be “surrounded by nobody but brown-nosers and yes-men”, all that happened was they transferred the attitude and behavior to a PHYSICAL “big boss man” instead of an invisible Spiritual(TM) one.


  7. Indeed. Also, it ignores history – how nations came about as a fairly recent phenomenon. Chesterton had his judgement clouded by the fact that England is an older concept precisely because it is an isolated island, although it shares the island with 2+ other nations (I say + because there were more, like the Cornish, that gradually disappeared). People have a tendency to see history as flowing to a “cast in stone” present.


  8. I was echoing what Catherine said above, but it’s part of the bigger picture of evangelical support of Trump at any cost.

    Trump and Kavanaugh are playing the same game, the game of Power, of never giving up. Truth be damned.

    I’ll also bounce off of HUG a bit, and refer you to Thomas Merton’s essay “The Moral Theology of the Devil,” which is also a chapter in New Seeds of Contemplation. It’s online.

    No, I’m not necessarily calling Trump or Kavanaugh the devil.


  9. Hello JOHN,

    you wrote, “I can tell you that many, likely most, believers in other nations look on in horror and dismay at American white evangelicals’ support of Trump and all that has gone with that.”

    I can tell you that many AMERICAN Christians look on in horror and dismay at American white evangelicals’ support of Trump and all that has gone with that also.

    Today T held a rally in Mississippi where he attacked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony in a way that provoked laughter from his ‘base’. So he listened to her testimony, said she was ‘credible’, and still proceeded to mock her knowing that her worst memory was the laughter of her attackers when she was fifteen. No wonder Fox News isn’t showing that part of the ‘rally’.

    What is going on with our evangelicals, I wonder???? I know many of them are good and decent people who would NEVER act like Trump or say the things he says and yet they fall down before in in adoration as their political leader, which is confusing us all in the United States who can’t understand this phenomenon.

    Can they, who could not ‘separate’ President Clinton’s sin with Monica Lewinsky apart from his work as a political leader, now suddenly be able to decompartmentalize Trump’s actions and words and put them in a ‘don’t go there’ box while they howl with delight over his speeches that mock an abuse victim and cheer his words at rallies that definite cross the line from ‘politics’ into something unspeakable?????

    If anyone here understands this, please share with me your insights.

    Is it a matter of Trump being for them what they dare not be themselves before God??? I don’t know. I don’t even know what you call that . . . . ‘reverse projection’ maybe???

    In any case, today a very brave woman who had told the Senate Committee that she was terrified has new reason to be frightened: the ‘leader’ of her country has put a target on her publicly and I am myself fearful for her safety in this strange world where ‘bible-believing Christians’ can cheer with passion a man who would do such a thing. But, hey, if he would take infants and toddlers forcibly from their mothers’ arms and put them in cages, who am I to be surprised at today’s attack on Christine Blasey Ford?????

    It’s getting worse, with the FBI not able to operate properly this week.

    We will get to the bottom of this. We must. For the sake of the nation. For our own humanity as a people.


  10. Ted, how is the Kavanagugh “matter” a marriage of the Republican Party and evangelicalism? How do you come that conclusion? Thanks


  11. Catherine, it’s turning us all into lawyers. One of the side-effects for me has been to read the bible defensively, looking up verses to refute this authoritarian movement, or to interpret the verses differently than they do.

    The question “What would Jesus do?” is still a good one. And I confess I’m not praying enough, which concerns me. Very spotty there.

    Speaking of the marriage of evangelicalism with the Republican party, this whole Kavanaugh matter is more of that, and what a distraction. I’m glued to it.


  12. Uh… yeah, what HUG said.

    And I think he must have seen this video, loosely described as “Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald and Mark Dever walk into a bar.” It’s exactly what they talk about.

    With credit to Dever, he didn’t brag about how big his was, but then his church growth model is very different and may be affecting our church culture more in the long run.


  13. –> “The parable of the Prodigal Son puts the lie to God’s overwhelming concern for his glory.”

    Excellent point. I’ll keep that one tucked away for the next time I hear about “God’s glory” trumping His mercy.


  14. Is it based on Max Lucado and Randy Frazee’s take on the Bible called “The Story”? If so, I kinda liked their shifting of scripture around in chronological order, but I would also be a bit suspect about someone building a Sunday school program/series around it.

    (Moments later, after Google search…)

    Okay, if what you’re talking about is THIS…


    … then that DOES appear to be the case, in which my reaction is: Ugh. Talk about overkill!!!


  15. Though I comment rarely, this website has been incredibly helpful and validating for me. I discovered Michael Spencer a number of years ago, right after I had to quit working because of my chronic migraine disease. The raw honesty that he expressed was so new and refreshing and helpful to me as I was dealing with my grief and loss. Seeing how so many others are navigating the post-evangelical wilderness has helped me and my husband as we’ve been figuring out how to extricate ourselves from Evangelicalism ourselves. You all have been part of my journey as I’ve tagged along silently.


  16. Jack Graham. I grew up in South Florida and went to First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach when I was a teenager. I had a great time and learned a lot there, but I’ve got a fair bit of baggage, although a lot less than other people. Jack Graham is a great public speaker, but he is truly a fundamentalist. And, there was no more room for growth at FBC WPB, so his move to Prestonwood was a good one for him. Fort Worth is more suburban and was ripe for mega-church growth. Really, though, the youth pastor and his wife were my main influences, and they were wonderful. I disagree with many of their Evangelical beliefs, but they truly loved all of us teenagers with all of our craziness.


  17. The parable of the Prodigal Son puts the lie to God’s overwhelming concern for his glory. In that culture what the father did – from giving his son the inheritance, to pining over him and watching for him, to running out to meet him (men did NOT run!), to accepting him back at all – would bring great dishonor on the father, his family, their whole clan! And honor was a life or death issue in that culture. Jesus’ point is not about the Prodigal son, or the older son – it’s about the father. He cares far more about his children than he does his honor (or glory). The cross is the ultimate proof of that!


  18. I stopped believing in imputed righteousness.

    It’s not that you have to be perfect to get into heaven, but that you need to be perfect to SURVIVE in Heaven. Imputed righteousness in that milieu accomplishes precisely nothing. Hell, even indulgences make more sense.

    The best Calvinists I know are far less implacable than their creed, and relished their inconsistencies. And many have been among the saintliest Christians I have ever known.


  19. Get two pastors together and in 5 minutes their talking about how big their church is, their budgets, their baptisms, etc. Those whose churches aren’t growing are failures.

    “Mine’s Bigger Than Yours!” except with their churches instead of inside their pants.


  20. Even though one of my favorite chihuahua cartoons as a kid was from the old Marmeduke newspaper strip:

    (Kig holding up a magnifying glass) “See, Marmaduke! I told you it was a dog!”


  21. The marriage of Evangelicalism with the Republican party and, even worse, the rise of the “Court Evangelicals” (one of whom was my pastor when I was a teenager) is appalling.

    Just out of curiosity, which Court Evangelical used to be your pastor?


  22. There’s a lot of fun you can have with just those few categories. Kill the carbs (and enjoy the whiskey and bourbon instead).
    A little momento from classic Dr Demento:


  23. Sometimes our church would take up an offering to pay for kids lunches who had an outstanding bill. A number of years ago, our pastor was on the school board. That was interesting. Some teachers thought he was there to get Creationism in the schools. He wasn’t. He just wanted to be a good school board member, which he was. The church we just left is actually shrinking and having less involvement in the community, which is one of the things that makes me and my husband sad. Churches are community organizations and we need to be a positive voice, even when we aren’t overtly evangelizing.


  24. Most people couldn’t care less about theology, but a large percentage of those still seem to take great interest in judging and vocally criticizing the sexual mores and behavior of others. Theology is only of interest or importance to them insofar as it supports their priggishness., and excuses their hypocrisy.


  25. Christiane, I’m afraid they would accuse you of “emotionalism”. There is a lot in this point of view redolent of “sucking up to the big boss man”.

    Your “test” idea is appropriate. If you were God would you want to spend eternity surrounded by nobody but sycophants and a**- kissers? Surely God has more self-respect than that!


  26. Thank you

    Undoubtedly you’re correct.

    2) I would like to meet someone who was a devout Calvinist but who was nevertheless convinced they were not one of the Elect. Such must exist I would guess.

    3) it’s not so much that the believers are monsters but it does make it hard to distinguish the Almighty from one. I am struck how often we ascribe behaviors to God which would be intolerable in a human being.

    4) My calculation is that if my fate is foreordained then it doesn’t matter what I do so in this life I will do what I want. I would think to a devoted Calvinist this attitude practically guarantees I am not one of the Elect. But see “The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner” by Scottish writer James Hogg wherein he develops the implications of divine election. Hogg’s protagonist commits a horrible murder on the theory that since he is one of the Elect he can get away with it. Hogg was satirizing hyper-Calvinism a bit but parts of the book are dark and worthy of Poe.

    Burro, what made you walk away?


  27. I will pray that God will help you to stay on your diet and exercise regimen, Mule, and that you will continue to experience coming into the light more and more as you go along your new path.


  28. Anybody have any experience with my #1 question? (regarding study guide/videos/Sunday School series The Story)

    I’m getting the vibe that it’s coming from the Reformed position (not that that is all bad) but… imo it’s a bit strange because of my church’s Anabaptist heritage… And it seems simplistic; as my wife noted; it seems geared towards people who have no church or religious history and this is the entry level teaching… which again is disheartening considering that most of the people (in my church) have been there all their lives. I mean, doesn’t anybody want something deeper, someday? Am I the only one? 😦 My biggest reaction/feeling as I sit through some of this: loneliness.


  29. Absolutely. Chihuahuas, whatever their size–it ranges from two or so to about twelve pounds–are completely convinced that they’re eight feet tall and bullet-proof.


  30. Thank you, Dana.

    My doc is a nutrition/exercise fanatic with a nutritionist wife who wants to resort to meds as a last resort. I appreciate that highly.

    After 65 years of eating whatever I pleased, I kind of needed this wakeup call.


  31. I can testify from personal experience that God will be with you through this. May His peace and health be yours.


  32. Hello Stephen,

    your number 3 is a thoughtful comment, this:
    “3. By the logic of their position the vast majority of the human race is doomed from eternity. All supposedly to the greater glory of god. Even if they believe this to be true, don’t the implications ever give them pause?”

    I also have to wonder at the profound lack of empathy it would take to think myself ‘saved/chosen’ and my neighbor burning in hell for all eternity and that’s ‘okay’ because it proves God’s ‘glory’. I mean, what KIND of ‘god’ would even begin to need this kind of horror to enhance his ‘glory’????
    The whole premise is so bizarre as to be incredible.

    Maybe this is some kind of ‘test’ that there is such a theology, so that God can know who NOT to let into heaven, that is, the ones who would give God the glory that they themselves were ‘saved’ while their neighbor suffered eternal agony.

    that ‘test’ idea reminds me of this story:


  33. I’ll be entering that process soon, too. Hope to have my two-book sci-fi series published late this year/early next year. Best of luck for you and your book!


  34. A friend of mine overheard this conversation between two pastors at a restaurant:

    Pastor 1: How’s it going at your church?
    Pastor 2: It’d be good if it weren’t for the people.
    Pastor 1: Yep.


  35. Re: #3 “By the logic of their position the vast majority of the human race is doomed from eternity. All supposedly to the greater glory of god.”

    I once had a discussion with an adamant Calvinist about this issue, and I think I gained some points when I shifted the focus from God to his own “parenthood.” Pointing to the man’s two children, I asked, “Did you intentionally birth these two kids knowing that you would doom one to hell and save the other, just to show you had the power to do so? No. You want the best for both of them, right? Now, if you discovered a parent WAS birthing children with the intention of condemning some to eternal suffering while sharing an eternal joyful relationship with the others, wouldn’t you HATE that parent? And you certainly wouldn’t worship a parent who did that, would you? So why do you see God that way?”


  36. Mule,

    I’ve had the dx for nearly 10 years. My doctor has me taking a combination oral medication that is keeping my sugar at 120 or less. I am getting to the place where I have to exercise to keep my back healthy and my legs out of pain, but up until now I have exercised only intermittently. When I do it even somewhat regularly, I feel better, of course. If my diet were better and I weighed less, I probably wouldn’t need the medication, or perhaps only the metformin component. I just don’t have the willpower to cut the carbs that drastically, and I’m working on getting more veg in my life – sigh. But I do still eat animal protein, including small helpings of meat, some cheese and butter, and as much fish & shellfish as I wish. My doctor is okay with this. If I eat any carbs at all, I have to oppose them with dense protein, or my sugar goes up. I can’t eat enough legumes and other vegetable protein to do that. I know other type 2s who have changed their diet drastically to eat like you are doing; I envy all of you.

    From all I’ve read, it seems that cholesterol is mostly connected to one’s genetic make-up, not how much animal fat one consumes. Our brains need fat. Most medical doctors have absolutely zip training in nutrition. My doctor has me taking larger doses of fish oil and niacin (being a B vitamin, what the body doesn’t need gets flushed out). Between the two, my bad cholesterol has gone down and my good has gone up, and both of those, along with the triglycerides, are smack dab in the middle of normal now, and have been for a couple of years. I don’t need any prescription drug for cholesterol. Email me if you wish to know the particulars, ldames at pacific dot net.



  37. I echo every else’s sentiments. Prayers going up to our Lord and the Almighty on your behalf, Robert F.


  38. I like to disappear in the woods. Recently I went back-packing with my oldest and youngest son. At night while we were trying to sleep you find the traffic noises are replaced with crickets and frogs and they are far from quiet.

    I also spent time in my kid life growing up in New York. My grandmother lived on the border of Queens and Brooklyn where the elevated transit ran. I can still remember the screech and klump-klump-klump of the rail system, and sometimes a solo loud voice, the sound of car horns, the smell of the city… what a contrast between the two….


  39. Speaking as a former Calvinist, this is how I believe they would answer your questions;

    1) God uses the proclamation of the Gospel to call His elect out of the world. Therefore, evangelism is assured of success in that the elect will respond.

    2) Yes to both questions. There are those of tender conscience who live in dreadful fear of impending judgement and there are presumptuous sinners who believe themselves elect who are merely fattening themselves for the slaughter.

    3) They are aware of all the implications, believe them to be true, and are not particularly perturbed by them. What keeps them from being the monsters you imagine them to be is that they also believe God reserves for Himself alone the knowledge of who is elect and who is reprobate.

    4) You should attend a church where the doctrines of grace are clearly taught, praying weekly that God would remove the scales from your eyes and reveal to your eyes the true state of your soul.

    You’re welcome


  40. Calvinism, IMO opinion leads to two possible ‘lifestyle choices’.

    The first is legalism. The burning question for Calvinists is ‘how can I really know?’ Since the answer can’t be ‘because I believe’ (since the devil believes) it must be evidence of regeneration. And (given the close links between Calvinism and Covenant Theology) keeping the ‘law’ is evidence of regeneration. So ‘works’ can’t save you but does become the way of assurance. It’s legalism on the front end or the back end.

    The second is fatalism. If I’m elect it doesn’t really matter what I do; if I’m not, it doesn’t really matter what I do. If I’m elect I’m good to go, so I’ll be saved in the end. If I’m not elect there is nothing I can do to change it, so I’m condemned. Either way, nothing really matters – how I live, what I believe – because it’s all out of my hands.


  41. There are things about the Reformed/Calvinist way of thought I’ve never understood.

    1.If you believe in the predestined “Elect” then why evangelize at all? What difference could it make? If you’re “in”, you’re “in” , right?

    2.Can a person be one of the “elect” and not know it? Can a person think they are “elect” and not be?

    3. By the logic of their position the vast majority of the human race is doomed from eternity. All supposedly to the greater glory of god. Even if they believe this to be true, don’t the implications ever give them pause?

    4.By the logic of their position I am most likely not one of the elect. So given their beliefs how do they think I should live my life?


  42. Welcome to the wilderness. My wife and I have been in it for several years and there is very little we miss about evangelicalism at this point.

    My brother and his wife go to a PCUSA church and like it very much. They vary, but I’d encourage you to give it a try.

    And do remember: you left a congregation; you are still very much a part of the church, as are all of us who wander.


  43. I eat ketogenically. Basically trying to get this body to burn fats for energy rather than carbs. Absolutely no substitutes, find there are many scams.


  44. Thanks, both of you all.

    Sean, because of my tendency to accumulate bad cholesterol, doc says I should avoid animal products as much as possible. Fish and poultry may be admissible 2-3x a week , but I should be getting most of my protein from plant sources. Fortunately ten-odd years of Orthodox fasting has provided a pretty solid base for a vegan lifestyle, so I’m not starting from zero.

    Whiskey and bourbon, hmm. I’ve never been a drinker of hard liquor because 1) my wife is still a teetotalling Evangelical and 2) for me, it’s more difficult to stay within my limits than with beer or wine.

    I’m delighted to hear that the ketogenic diet is working so well for you.


  45. My brother-in-law has the same thing. It’s a nasty disease if you don’t work to manage it. My prayers are with you also. Also, you might try curried legumes to make them more palatable. The More With Less cookbook has some good recipes for that kind of thing.


  46. I think there is an evangelical crisis, but it’s not quite with Michael predicted. White American evangelicalism has become highly tribal and increasingly incapable of self-examination. I can tell you that many, likely most, believers in other nations look on in horror and dismay at American white evangelicals’ support of Trump and all that has gone with that.

    There are a lot of reasons for the tribalism, and a lot of history that primed white evangelicalism to bend more and more that way. I doubt it’s capable of self-correction. Maybe small parts of it, but not in the main.


  47. I’m neither a doctor nor the son of a doctor, but I’ve recently embraced a ketogenic diet, and it’s worked wonders. Paired with intermittent fasting (eating all meals within a 6-8 hour window daily), I’ve dropped 25 pounds in 4 months.

    No miracle pills, shakes, expensive organic stuff, etc. Just intentional choices about what to eat and not eat. Mostly: meat, eggs, cheese, and leafy greens. Fatty stuff. There’s a lot of fun you can have with just those few categories. Kill the carbs (and enjoy the whiskey and bourbon instead).

    It’s definitely a trendy fad thing right now, but there are lots of reports about people turning around their diabetes with it. The reddit forum is what turned me on to it. It’s just people’s stories, not anyone shilling their products. Because there aren’t any products.

    I’ve never been a preachy person about diet or exercise, but holy crap, this thing has worked for me and everyone else I know that’s tried it. Research it well if you’re interested.


  48. And, Fleming Rutledge’s magisterial “The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ.” (Best Christian book I’ve read in years.) Not an easy read, but absolutely worth the effort. Even the footnotes are great!


  49. A couple of things:

    – Adam TW : yes, our church does. Dry involved in the community and outreaches, etc., and he latest is we started an after school tutoring opportunity for the neighborhood kids (well, anyone really), but the church is surrounded by 3 schools.
    – Catherine : I hear ya. I was evangelical for the first 50+ years also, and now we walk to our neighborhood ELCA Pacifica Synod Lutheran Church around the corner. We love it. Found a home. The feel, the worship, the teaching, the ministries, the lack of ‘programs’ thank goodness, and a community there involved with the greater community.
    Good for you. I will try to remember to pray for you in this season.
    – does anyone know much about Vhurch Project? Our ex-church is starting it. The old church was multi-site (3), and what a disaster that was. One broke off, now this one is…and doin the Church Project. All our friends are wanting us to come back. I keep explaining to them that we have a church. They can’t handle that we went to the Lutheran church.
    Just wondering?


  50. A couple of months ago, I got blindsided by a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, and was read the riot act by my endrocrinologist. Basically, I have to follow an Orthodox monastic diet not just during the fasting periods but pretty much full time. Legumes and green leafy vegetables, both of which I despise and which elicit a gag response in me, have to be the core of my diet from here on out. Water, my doctor tells me, is about the only thing I should drink, and I have to ‘work up a sweat’ daily on my bicycle.

    I will dearly miss beer, mostly carbohydrates, 0 nutrition. Doctor says ‘no’, period. Very dry wines may be OK once or twice a month.

    The interesting thing is how it has affected my mood. At first, I went through the classical stages of grief; denial, anger, etc, but just in the last couple of weeks the sun has really broken through the clouds and I find myself with more energy than I have had since my mid twenties. Prayer is easier and the Divine Liturgy is a delight. I find myself less troubled by the bad political news, and it is very, very bad no matter which side you are on, and less angered by the shenanigans of both sides, and more disposed to pray for them.

    So RobertF, and those others of you bedevilled by medical conditions beyond your control, fear not. It may just prove to be a passage into a wider space than you could imagine.

    Other notes: Chesterton is entirely right. I ‘understand’ what he is saying in my tuetanos. It is basically Trinitarianism in the political sphere, but not something I expect anyone to take up as a banner caause anytime soon. The forces of homogenization and ‘levelling’ are at the present far too powerful and entrenched.


  51. I hear you. I’ve worked hard not to be cynical. I know who I am, and I know what I have to offer. Thankfully I’m within a denominational network that is not going to force me to be something I’m not. They value me for who I am, and for that I’m very, very grateful.

    So, it’s not the “CEO-or-bust” mentality I’m wrestling with. I dream about the opportunity to create a community from scratch, with homegrown, Jesus-y values, so I’ve been having conversations with my leadership about what planting might look like. They’re entertaining it. But in all honestly, it still just seems too difficult and complicated.

    I’m hoping to acquire some grit, because I’d hate myself for giving up on a dream before even attempting to pursue it. Pray for me.


  52. “Pull up the ladder — I’M ABOARD!”

    When you look at it with the mind of an Utter Reprobate, Calvinism is as selfish and narcissistic a faith as Randian Objectivism. Except for having a God molded in their own image — utterly selfish POWER.


  53. My husband and I left our Evangelical church this week. I’ve been Evangelical all of my 51 years of life, but just couldn’t do it anymore. Yes, there are problems at the church we left. They’ve become more conservative and are fighting the culture wars with even more fervor over the last five years. But, my husband and I have become more progressive. Our daughter is bisexual and that’s OK with us (after a long time of study and prayer). The marriage of Evangelicalism with the Republican party and, even worse, the rise of the “Court Evangelicals” (one of whom was my pastor when I was a teenager) is appalling. And the constant sparring about Creationism, inerrancy, and the role of women is just tiresome. I talked to the pastor of our local (very small – we live in a town of 2000) PCUSA church yesterday and I think that might be a good fit for us. But it feels strange.


  54. If, as most Reformed/Calvinists believe, God determines salvation (predestines), then why are they so insistent on teaching/proclaiming only one way of salvation, ie penal substitution-believing in the work of the Cross-having an individualized relationship with God?

    Because the More-Calvinist-than-Calvin crowd is always trying to PROVE to themselves that They are of the Elect. Once this was “material blessings”, i.e. getting filthy stinking rich; now it’s More Correct Theology than Thou. And Penal Substitution is not only More Correct Theologically Than Thou (within their tribe), but fits in with their nitpicking harsh God who will destroy and kill everyone and everything to stroke his own Glory.


  55. I have trouble following it. As a proposition it is flying at an extremely high altitude.

    It is much simpler to explain these movements in almost purely economic terms.

    But then the Reformation was an principally an Economic Event IMNSHO. Luther was more right-place-right-time than anything else; as the rising, more literate, Mercantile class pressed against the decaying bonds of Feudal Society.


  56. Unfortunately the American church (as a whole) seems to want a CEO instead of a shepherd. Get two pastors together and in 5 minutes their talking about how big their church is, their budgets, their baptisms, etc. Those whose churches aren’t growing are failures. It’s the whole church culture, reflecting American culture, and very little of what finds in the Bible. I feel your pain, but have no answers.


  57. Robert F. All I can offer is a prayer for you and your wife and that I can emphasize with you to some extent due to my recent health issue with mobility due to an accident. Just the physical/medical inactivity and physical therapy part has been a hard struggle for me so I can understand your just concern about the financial issues and recovery issues. All I can add is like Christiane wrote try to be as proactive as you can. Contact those entities that you can that may be able to help you and explore all resources. On the financial side personally let the ones you have financial obligations to and be honest with your situation I know this is elementary stuff but sometimes good , hardworking people are reluctant to reach out and perhaps might miss out some resources or help available.

    Growing up in a very dire financial situation I have always been aware of how fragile the financial well being of many Americans is. I read somewhere most Americans are six weeks of no pay check away from being in bad financial shape. Every day that I had to deal with my issue I was so grateful that I did not have to worry about finances and care, there was not a day that I did not dwell on that issue in my mind and never take it for granted which because of their background my wife and many of my friends just do not relate the same. There is such a thing as coming from different worlds and I mean no negative in that observation.

    So it is good you shared your concerns and problems because sometimes just getting it off your chest or asking for prayers is all we can do. You are sharing an honest and real concern. Hopefully you can avail yourself of any available assistance or God willing things will progress medically better than you anticipate. Also, even with financial matters do not be reluctant to be explain your situation.

    So all the above is just a long winded way to say good luck and God bless.


  58. I’ve been in an associate pastoral role for 3.5 years. I think I’m pretty good at it. But I’m doubting the future.

    I love being a pastor. But I don’t want to run a church.

    I love telling the story of scripture to people who’ve never heard it before. But I hate trying to do everything it takes (beyond personal invitations) to draw them in on a Sunday morning.

    If I have any kind of calling, it’s to be with and among people. But I’m stuck to my office desk responding to emails and doing administration stuff more than I’d like, partly because I’m so bad at it.

    So I’m trying to figure out what my best contribution to the Kingdom is, and whether I can make that contribution as a vocational pastor.

    If not, I would really miss preaching.


  59. Yet if you are already “there” this is not a problem; it is providence, and His ways are not our ways. What is a thousand years? That is a Human consideration.


  60. On globalism. Very related is “The Paradoxes of Christianity”, chapter vi of Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. He is called the prince of paradox and this chapter is colossal. He contends that Christianity declares virtue is not a balance. It is a conflict of two passions apparently opposite- but not really inconsistent, and very hard to hold simultaneously. After marvelously describing many examples he says if anyone wants proof of all this consider the curious fact that Europe has broken up into individual nations. “Patriotism is a perfect example of this deliberate holding of one emphasis against another emphasis. The instinct of the Pagan empire would have said, ‘You shall all be Roman citizens, and grow alike; let the German grow less slow and reverent; the Frenchmen less experimental and swift.’ But the instinct of Christian Europe says, ‘Let the German remain slow and reverent, that the Frenchmen may the more safely be swift and experimental. We will make an equipoise out of these excesses. The absurdity called Germany shall correct the insanity called France’ “.And as Europe has lost its Christian instinct it has reverted. Many globalist instincts seek for us to all grow alike. And it should be noted by Christians that in what has been called the culture wars, we have often also lost the instinct to create an equipoise out of two passions apparently opposite.


  61. Robert

    how minuscule our
    journey in this universe
    it is all we have

    Except for the love of friends who accompany us .



  62. AZ – N.T. Wright’s book,The Day the Revolution Began, takes a hard look at that very issue. Richard Rohr has spoken and written about this, too.


  63. Evangelicalism is a hallmark of being American Middle Class, attendance at these churches is, IMNSHO, compelled by Cultural Aspiration. So a real-world mish-mash of Politics|Tribablism|Options when what leads and what follows are not clearly defined, Culture is much with the feed-back loops.

    I no longer believe the great majority of people give a fig about Theology, they will “support” whatever the Theology is if the organization has the correct cultural signaling. I do not mean this in nearly so critical/negative a way as it sounds; but it does require leadership to have something of a clue in order to produce virtuous outcomes. There is – honestly – no reason whatsoever for the great majority of people to give a fig about Theology, they have other concerns.


  64. And apparently God waited until the late Middle Ages to compel them to that greater truth, when thinking in ways that would allow them to cobble together that ‘way’ would be possible. Too bad for those who came before, or those in our day who no longer see the airtight logic to that ‘way’.


  65. As someone who doesn’t comment often but reads almost every day I want to echo Tokah’s comment.

    This site is a blessing to more people than you realize and you are all appreciated.


  66. > loud as a pissed-off dinosaur

    One of my favorite sounds is at night, as long as it is warm enough to have the windows open, the sing-song of the city’s two rail yards. For as long as I can remember they have seemed inhabited by great weary beasts of burden singing to one another across the city as they heaved their burdens into whatever order the next day would require.

    And I remember all those nights, the economy in one of its doldrums, when the darkness was silent. No cause to rouse the beasts to their labor.


  67. What, in your opinion, is holding it together? Theology? Politics? Tribalism? Lack of other appealing options for church?


  68. I like it.

    It’s science: Dogs have no conceptualization of physical size. This is demonstrable in many ways. The most memorable for me was the lady’s escaped Chiwawa who hurled himself across lanes of traffic to dangle, snarling, and hopelessly ineffective, from the throat of my Dogo Argentino [Argentinian Fighting Dog]. My dog just looked up at me, confused.


  69. Question.

    Putting aside all the “big” issues and Culture War stuff, are your congregations, church, or neighbor churches visibly present in the discussion of community issues? Stuff like schools, sidewalks, parks, transportation, policing, housing, economic development. etc… ?
    Possibly on the flip side, do you feel that these institutions even have an awareness of these types of issues?

    [this is not a criticism] Or do they feel compelled to “just” show up in the “standard” ways, like handing out winter coats now that autumn is here, or sending volunteers to shelters? If so, what do you think is the cause for this participation being so pat|formula?


  70. I just wanted to share how much I appreciate y’all. I don’t comment a lot lately, but I do keep up and read, and I’m glad that we’re family. I think you guys have done more to help me understand where my parents are coming from than anyone.

    In the world of search engine optimizatoin and endless algorithms feeding you more of what you already watched, a place where almost everyone has a totally different perspective than you do (but you’re still welcome) is a rare and precious resource.


  71. > To me those two things seem contradictory…

    Yep. Much cognitive dissonance is created by the proximity on Fatalism and the primacy of Theological Precision.

    > it’s self evident that people come to Christ various

    My experience with the Reformed is that it requires a suspension of believe in observable causation: you cannot “really” know Why things are happening. Observably Cause is fatal to their way of thinking; at best what is observable is only a thin patina obscuring the true impetus which lies beyond our perception [that being God’s Will – remember His ways are not our ways].

    > and we should be ok with that,

    But then you have departed from Western European Angst and become Scandinavian! 🙂

    > And it’s definitely a way that is cobbled together by humans . . .

    Not if the human’s actions are predetermined; then it was God’s Will compelling them into their greater truth.


  72. Seems like a good time to ask some questions I’m having recently.

    1) Our church is going through the study guide/videos/Sunday School series The Story. Has anyone else been through this and what were your impressions or take-aways? I’ll add some of my initial thoughts later.

    2) Related question. If, as most Reformed/Calvinists believe, God determines salvation (predestines), then why are they so insistent on teaching/proclaiming only one way of salvation, ie penal substitution-believing in the work of the Cross-having an individualized relationship with God? To me those two things seem contradictory… It would seem from a human perspective, it’s self evident that people come to Christ various ways and we should be ok with that, because ultimately(according to Reformed/Calvinist) God does the deciding; but that’s not the Reformed way. Instead it’s; God does the deciding and He only uses this one way that oh btw, we’ve come up with! (And it’s definitely a way that is cobbled together by humans, cherry picking passages and phrases from here and there throughout the written, formalized canon…)
    I hope that makes sense… the question I had in mind seemed clearer until I started to write it out…!


  73. Hello Robert F

    concerning worries over needing help during recovery from surgery, this:

    check with your surgeon and/or your primary care physician regarding what they know about medically-recommended home nursing care through visiting nurses/caregivers. . . . . . your medical insurance may provide coverage for some or all of having a nurse come to the house.

    so don’t panic, get on the phone in the morning and place some calls . . . .

    I’ve had home health care and a home physical therapist in the initial weeks after a knee replacement and my insurances covered everything, but I don’t know what kind of coverage you have for yourself and your wife’s needs. Insurance is a maze to struggle through but the doctors may be able to steer you in the right directions. Hope this helps some. So sorry to hear of your trouble.


  74. I finally found some data on the impact of all that scandal at Willow Creek. Attendance has declined by ~9% this year; significant, but not a tidal wave. Willow Creek’s attendance has been on a downward slope for several years, that slope beginning before all the scandal.

    So, even with all that and everything else in the world, still no “Evangelical Crisis”.


  75. My wife and I are facing a difficult time ahead. I may require surgery for a varicose vein that, because of existing complications, could result in an extended period of recovery when I cannot work, and I cannot help my wife, who requires my assistance to do her work. For years now we have been straddling the line of having enough material security to hold onto our purchase in the taken-for-granted world of American middle-class abundance, and not having enough; I fear this surgery and recovery time may put us decisively on the “wrong side” of that line. It has been easy for me to say for years that Christ is most present among those who live in the world of need and insecurity, where the gods of affluence and competence are seen to be empty idols that cannot save. Now may come the time for me to live the reality rather than spout the theology. God help me, and my wife.


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