Welcome to the Circus

*** Preface. My buddy Brent has given some inside info in regards to the Genesis of this debate that most of us were unaware of. His information seriously hinders the integrity of my pressupositions that brought about this post. This being the case, please read the comments to find out how big of an idiot I am. But also take Ryan’s comment into consideration regarding the few good points I actually make.***

 

A lot of Christians I know are excited about the recent Nightlight debate about “The Existence of Satan.” They shouldn’t be.

Like a bad reality television show, the producers arrganged a debate not to come to any conclusion about humanity, or in this case, Satan. Rather they put four polarizing quote machines on stage hoping that a mosaic of chaotic one-liners would ensue.

Mission accomplished.

Lobert and Driscoll on stage

 

Let me start off with my team. I know Mark Driscoll. I know people that know Annie Lobert. Here’s why they were chosen:

On stage Driscoll is a loud mouthed, excitable one-liner quote machine of Christian pop-culture (he is many other things as well, many of them I am fond of, but I am assuming that none of those were why he was chosen for this debate). Listen to about 50 sermons and you will notice the recycled one-liners and soon be able to call them out before they come (note: he would no doubt conclude this as well. His sermon outlines dictate that he simply recycle his well prepared analogies and jokes around the Big Idea [shout out to Haddon Robinson] of the passage.) As he has shown by his recent media appearances: this is one of the main things “Pastor Dude” is good for.

Side note: I believe Mark to be one of the smartest and most theologically equipped theologians I know. But his recent media appearances have fed into certain stereotypes of his persona. His quick one-liners mixed with theology are so good for news media because they illicit such a visceral gut reaction either good or bad. Mark is a great theologian, but that is not why he is being interviewed by the media. Just for the record, D.A. Carson isn’t making any major news outlets for quotes or interviews.

Lobert was not chosen because of her compelling testimony, rather for her image, the bombastic nature of her ministry (which I am not in disagreement with) and her great claim that she was raped by Satan/demons. Not a theologian, simply a piece of the circus, of whom I can only guess producers hoped would be emotionally driven.

Super side note: I am not trying to bad mouth or say I do not like these people. I love Mark and am very grateful for Annie. I am simply trying to show why I think they were chosen for this debate.

Chopra came off as a pretentious know-it-all, so I’m guessing that’s why he was involved. And the other guy seemed, and probably is, nuts so there you go (plus he was black, and ABC probably wanted to even the race card out).

I sent the link of this interview to someone I knew that didn’t really have a horse in the race and this was his response (note, I sent this to him before I had a chance to watch the debate):

“Bro, you MUST watch these, hilarity will ensue, I promise!
-First off, who the hell (pun intended) picked these four people expecting a true debate?”

I know that many Christians are very excited that the gospel was preached (very well by Pastor Dude), as am I. I know that many are excited by how Driscoll came off, which wasn’t that bad. But we must not miss the bigger picture. We as Christians, the idea of Satan, and one of the most prominent leaders of the “New Calvinism” were made a mockery of. And it is really dangerous when you are being made fun of and don’t realize it. When this happens your voice doesn’t carry much weight, and your topic is automatically straw-maned. It doesn’t matter if it is justified or not.

So Christians, Mark Driscoll and Annie Lobert especially: you are being made a mockery of. You were picked to be a part of this circus because they thought you would make for entertainment. Not because they value our/your opinion.

Let’s reconsider how excited, and furthermore, how we promote these circuses.

– matt

Francis Schaeffer: A Theology of Silence and Solitude

” Some are saying that in the next generation, the government’s chief job will be to devise ways of keeping a growing mass of people entertained, because machines will have taken their jobs” No Little People, Schaeffer p. 85.

Schaeffer was quite prophetic as he wrote in the 1970’s, and even then he had some cautionary words about the Christian soul and entertainment/technologies effect on it.

“People today are afraid to be alone.  This fear is a dominant mark upon our society.  Many now ceaselesly sit in the cinema or read novels  about other people’s lives or watch dramas.  Why?  Simply to avoid facing their own existence.  Many of us can sit in front of the television and, except on rare occasions, not face our own private life.  Entertainment so fills every cranny of our culture we can easily escape thinking.”

Is this true?  I know it pricks my conscience as I think about my own propensity to “zone out” in front of the television rather than engage with life.  What does Schaeffer mean by saying “we are afraid to face our own existence?”

But wait he keeps going.

“So is the one who stands with the transistor radio plugged in his ear much of the day.  No one seems to want (and no one can find) a place for quiet–because when you are quiet, you have to face reality.  But many in the present generation dare not do this because on their own basis reality leads them to meaninglessness; so they fill their lives with entertainment, even if it is only noise.”

The last sentence hits hard.  Yet it might be why we live in a culture that never considers its own mortality or finitness.  Most of us go on living as if we have forever.  We forget to heed the words of James 4.

Schaeffer concludes with saying, “The Christian is supposed to be the very opposite.  There is a place for proper entertainment, but we are not to be caught up in ceaseless motion which prevents us from ever being quiet.  Rather we are to put everthing second so we can be alive to the voice of God and allow him to speak to us and confront us.”

Please read this twice and let it sink in.  It may sound obvious but it is hard to hear and commune with God when our lives are so filled with noise, like trying to have a conversation at a Las Vegas night club.  Schaeffer begs with us to make ourselves alive to silence.  To give way to quietness for the sake of our soul.  Wrestle with your existence and now that you are finite and your life is short.

When I was in college one of my favorite verses was Isaiah 30: 15.

This is what the LORD the Holy One of Israel, says:

In repentence and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.

ryan

What Does Bonus Mean?

Websters Dictionary defines a bonus as, “something in addition to what is expected or strictly due: as a: money or an equivalent given in addition to an employee’s usual compensation.”
When I was a kid my parents would give me five dollars for good grades on my report card.  Not average grades but a B+ or higher.  Call it incentive to do well.  I wonder what would have happened if I would have gotten all F’s and then still asked for my $5 bucks with a straight face.  Or to take it one step further, I had the audacity to chew them out and lecture them on how they were going to lose their most talented kid if the did not incentivize me regardless of results.

I know the analogy does not cross over perfectly and is a bit silly, but it is supposed to be.  AIG recently gave  $165,000,000 million to just over a hundred people who were directly responsible for leading a business to a place where it one its own, could have destroyed the US financial system.  The average American household pays right around $3,ooo a year in federal taxes.  Therefore it is the taxable income of around 55,000 American households that will pay a $165,000,000 dollars to bonus people who have been complete failures.  This is not capitalism.

Capitalism pays for performance.  It does not have the government pay exorbitant bonuses to those who have been a blight upon everyone else, in the name of free markets.  Lets be clear this is not a bonus, read the definition again of what a bonus is and you will see that this does not meet the criteria.  This is theft, considering that AIG has been given 180 Billion in your money over the last six months.

Now the two arguments to pay these “bonuses” are;

1.  They are contractual, it would be breaking a contract to not pay them.  Was is it in their contract to make decisions that would lead to the complete annihilation of the company?  If the bonus payment really stipulated that these 100 executives should get $165 million in bonuses even if the fail, then I do not want to hear Wall Street ever again bemoan that unions force companies to pay employees more even when their performance has not increased.  Besides I would love to see any of these 100 executives face the cameras in a courtroom suing the US government to get their bonus.  That will be the day.

2.  If we do not pay the bonus we will lose our best talent.  Hey our company’s value has declined over 90% in the last year, we are $180 billion in debt to the US government, and do not know when we will ever be profitable again, but hell we got hold onto all our people who made this all happen for us.  In all seriousness where are these people going to go?  I doubt there are a long list of company’s lining up right now to steal all the great talent from failing banks.  Not to mention unemployment is over 10.5% in California, 10% in Nevada, and closing in on 9% nationwide.  So if they feel they really have a lot of options open to them, good, go ahead and move on.

Look, I am not against capitalism, rich people, banks, making money, investing, or anything of the sort. I have always loved capitialism and the stock market and been actively involved in it for a couple years now.  But anyone with some common sense has got to realize that a system in which you reward people even when they fail is not a free market or good for anybody.  The tendency in these conversations is to always go to one extreme; either ignore all the obvious flaws and failures of Wall Street and call those who point them out names like socialists, or think that all executives and rich people are evil and responsible for all of America’s economic problems.  We all have to do better than that.  I am simply advocating some sanity be brought back to American capitialism.  That our economy really is a free market, one in which no institution/company can bring the whole thing down, and that we make businesses and business people be held accountable for their actions.

Honor Shame Culture

As primarily an individualist transit culture, we are often unable to comprehend the honor culture in which Jesus lived.  In a time of limited mobility in which the culture you were born in would be the one you would spend the rest of your life, honor and your reputation was everything; once it was gone that was often it.  The rest of your life could be tarnished by any slip up or difficulty.  The woman at the well in John 4 is a great illustration of this.

Sadly this extreme honor culture is still dominant in place like the Middle East and parts of Japan.  In fact here is a story that talks about a forest in Japan that is known as being a destination to kill oneself.  One man named Taro had this to say after recently trying to kill himself there, “I’d lost my identity, so I didn’t want to live on this earth. That’s why I went there.”

Honor/shame cultures are deeply embedded with a sense of duty and obligation.  And when one fails at their duties and roles the are essentially stripped of everything.  To quote Taro, “a loss of identity.”

Followers of Jesus must remember that in good and bad, recession and prosperity, we are to say blessed by the name of the Lord.  That our identity is not as temporary or weak as something as tangential as money or the praise of men.  We are made in the image of our Creator which gives us all eternal dignity value and worth.

ryan

Matt Chandler Text and Context

I was fortunate enough to be at this conference and hear Chandler give this message.  Its not something that can be captured on podcasts or video, but as I sat in Mars Hill Church hearing Chandler give this message the work of the Holy Spirit through him was evident.  Dude is clearly anointed.

And if you have not jumped on the Matt Chandler bandwagon yet (have we won you over yet Thomas?) then listen to the new series he is in the middle of.

ryan

The mattandryan bracket group

If you have a bracket filled out on ESPN.com go ahead and joing the group mattandryan

Group: mattandryan

Password: mattchandler

No prizes just blog bragging rights.

– matt

Matt Chandler On The Importance Of Preaching God

This one is not long and it is WORTH 4 minutes of your time.  Trust me.