Charismatic Church Service

I post this not to just for an easy laugh, but out of curiousity.  What is a church service this chaotic really like?  Is there any concern for orderly worship that builds up each other?  Or is some of the service organized and then the rest of it is “spirit-filled time?”


The Culture Wars And Why They Will Continue

Here is something I wrote during seminary and am becoming more convinced that it might be correct.

It has become common for young Christian leaders to have apathy towards a right-wing Christianity that is constantly at odds with the culture around them.  Younger Christians are standing up and saying they want to move past the tired culture war debates that have persisted over the last 30 years.  But I have begun to wonder if this is really possible or just a naive idea.

Don’t get me wrong I think that some Christians, past and present, have too tightly tied together biblical principles and political values.  And the result has been that for many of the unchurched in our nation Christianity is a group of hypocritical bigots who are just trying to establish a puritanical theocracy.

But is it possible for biblical faithful Christians to move past the culture wars?  As much as I would like to say yes the sad truth is no, in fact I think the culture wars will only escalate in the coming decades.  And while they may go dormant with one side winning more than the other they will only boil more intensely as time goes on.

My point of this post is not to rally the troops or to prepare you to pick sides but more of to explain why I think this is the case.

Up until the Enlightenment humanity had a shared theistic/deism/Christian worldview.  This worldview grounded morality and explained how people ought to act and behave.  It was the grounding, to use the proper philosophical term, of why people acted with virtue.  We had a shared civil morality that grounded how we governed and interacted with each other.  With the Enlightenment this all changed.

Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead and with the rise of Darwinian evolution we were freed from the need to believe that God created the cosmos, therefore if God was not needed for creation he was not needed to ground our morality either.  Such statements that we find in our Declaration of Independence that ground the worth and value of humans not in what they can do or achieve but rather in their orgins/ontology no longer made any sense.  It became impossible to tell anyone why they should not steal, or harm others, other than to make secular arguments from utilitarianism about working for the greatest good for the greatest number.  But even with utilitarianism there is no grounding for the “ought” why ought one comply with what is good for the greatest number and for that matter what is good and who gets to define it?

With this moral confusion fascism, communism and uber-nationalism took root.  The history of the twentieth century bore the fruit of these new human ambitions with events such as WWI, WWII, and the atrocities of Pol-Pot in China. Secular intellectuals who put such hope in these ideologies did not return to faith for the grounding of human morality and meaning rather they reached into despair that any truth about the world was possible, thus the rise of postmodernism.

Truth became subjective (true for you but not for me), minimalistic (as long as I don’t hurt anyone) and ever changing depending on one’s culture.  Morality was turned into a hodgepodge of sentimental consensus and preference.  Which effectively stripped it of a sturdy basis to speak out against moral evils.

Without a grounding for morality no moral consensus can be reached, which is why we are in an ongoing culture war.  Human rights, and morality once grounded in Creator God are now subjective instead of objective.

Without God and grounding our morality in him we are left with no real resource to say what is good or evil, right or wrong, or how humans ought to live. And these are really the root issues and matters that undergird all of the culture wars, and why they will only intensify over time.  For the Christian, human rights, morality, and truth are knowable and rooted in God.  For many secular liberals nothing could be more absurd and disdainful.  As time wears on this cultural divide will only make itself more apparent in our elections, educational systems, entertainment, and laws.

Of course I am not advocating a “us vs. them” posture.  I am simply attempting to explain the culture wars and why they will continue.  It will be the responsibility of every mature follower of Jesus to deftly navigate these perilous culture waters and love both the truth God has objectively given to us and our neighbor.


Why We Love The Church

One of the best book I read a few years ago was “Why We’re Not Emergent.”  It was well reasoned, incredibly written, and avoided unneeded polemics in favor of a passionate plea to take serious issues that deeply effect our understanding of God.  Well the authors, Ted Kluck, and Kevin DeYoung have a new book out, a follow up if you will, entitled “Why We Love The Church.”  Here is a quote from me that has said much of what I have felt about doctrine and the church for many years now.

Church isn’t boring because we’re not showing enough film clips, or because we play an organ instead of guitar. It’s boring because we neuter it of its importance. Too often we treat our spiritual lives like the round of golf used to open George Barna’s Revolution. At the end of my life, I want my friends and family to remember me as someone who battled for the Gospel, who tried to mortify sin in my life, who found hard for life, and who contended earnestly for the faith. Not just a nice guy who occasionally noticed the splendor of the mountains God created, while otherwise just trying to enjoy myself, manage my schedule, and work on my short game.


10 Ways to Celebrate Easter without the Bunny

My wife has a GREAT post on her blog about Easter traditions. We are spending our first year as parenting researching and seeking to prayerfully develop traditions that help the deep traditions of our faith become real in the lives of us and our children. Click the picture for 10 Ways to Celebrate Easter without the Bunny.


this is not a joke

This is for real…

What do you think about this blog post?

I am particularly interested in what you think of the 8 reasons to join. I will post my thoughts in the comments along with yours.

– matt

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

the word “church”

Recently I was asked for my thoughts on Jeremy Pryor’s blog, Please Define “Church”. Here goes.

One thing I have come to find infinitely valuable when discussing anything is to first question the validity of a question/thesis. If the question/thesis proves invalid for any number of reasons, I can focus my discussion on that, or ignore the topic altogether. If the question/thesis proves valid, I can hardly find a reason not to engage. Sometimes, however, the validity of a question/thesis is ambiguous and requires further clarification. That is where I find myself when I hear statements like the one Jeremy leads off with:

We need a clear consensus on the New Testament meaning of the word “Church”.

Perhaps Mike Edwards comment best illustrates my point:

I think there may be a confusion of terms to square away. The word “church” is an english word that more accurately means “the place where God dwells”.

From this perspective we have 2 valid meanings for the word church:

a) The idiomatic meaning (the meaning that is commonly accepted) – the building where a worship service takes place.

b) The actual and literal meaning – the place where God dwells.

I find it a quest of insanity to commit oneself to deconstruct an idiomatic meaning to replace it with the actual meaning. An example of this would be someone hell bent on explaining to a bunch of 12 year-olds that the word “cool” is a temperature reference and not a state of one’s general acceptance among peers. What’s the point? Even if you can convince them, the embeded idiomatic meaning cements it’s usage in their vernacular.

So now I come back to Jeremy’s thesis: We need a clear consensus on the New Testament meaning of the word “Church”.

Now, there is another side of this coin, and that is when an idiomatic meaning trumps or hinders the ability for people to understand the true meaning of the word. Take our example of 12 year olds and the word “cool” again. Does their use of the word in it’s commonly accepted meaning trump or hinder anyone’s ability to understand the original meaning of the word? Of course not. Does our commonly accepted use of the word “church” trump or hinder anyone’s ability to understand it’s orignal meaning?

Ahh, now we are getting somewhere.

So now we are faced with a dilema. We desperately desire for people to know the true meaning of thw word “church,” but are faced with the reality that (IF WE ARE HONEST WITH OURSELVES) attempting to change the idiomatic meaning of the word “church” is a fruitless endeavor.

My solution: allow people to use the word church however they so please, while attempting to build a church that is authentic to the New Testament meaning. Worry less about getting people to use the word right, and focus more on getting them to be the church right. That seems far more condusive to Kingdom building.