Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloweenies 2: Revenge of the Tracts

Smell my feet.The Evangelical Outpost has some strong commentary on the infamous Chick Tracts. Joe Carter, who wrote the aforementioned commentary, expresses his displeasure regarding Halloween Chick Tracts using no uncertain terms:
I think it's safe to say that if the Lord hates Halloween then he must despise Chick tracts. When a well-intentioned but overzealous Christian gives these "comics" to a child it must be, as Chick would say, a "slap in the face." If you are the type of person who does this on Halloween I only have one word to say to you: repent.

Irrational fear is an overrated motivational tool, especially when you're trying to win the hearts and minds of children. Just look at my example. Twenty years later I'm still creeped out by the thought of the Chick comics. While they might have had the intended impact -- to scare the living hell out of me -- they did so by appealing to an unncessary fear of Satan. [Read the full post]
I'm all for redeeming Halloween. I'll even be dressing up as yon mountain hillbilly to give out candy to neighborhood kids at our church's Trunk-or-Treat event. I don't even mind folks passing out tracts (although I generally question their effectiveness.) Perhaps Joe's statement above runs a little hot, but this article does make a good point; these Halloween tracts sensationalize fear, and I don't think that's the way to win children to Christ. At least I know I wouldn't care much for my son getting one of those.

[HT: Between Two Worlds]

Monday, October 30, 2006


The U2 Eucharist could be coming to an Episcopal liturgy near you. Maybe now you'll find what you're looking for. Or not.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Spooky.'Tis the season: time for the kiddies to get all dressed up in them costumes and go get some candy (while ultra-conservatives pass out strange... um... literature. Boo. And I don't mean like a ghost.)

Whichever side of the fence you fall on regarding the celebration of or participation in ye olde All Hallows' Eve, Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, offers a thorough history of the holiday. As far as should Christians participate or not? Say they:
"Some members of Mars Hill opt to avoid Halloween altogether because portions of its mixed up history prick their conscience. Others see it as a truly americanized holiday, not specifically Christian but essentially 'American' like Thanksgiving or Presidents’ Day, and have no conscience issues participating. Others still draw various lines in between..."

"For those who have shunned Halloween because they were simply told it was evil, or for those who have participated and never bothered to weigh its appropriateness, your pastors would encourage the employment of godly wisdom, discernment, and a sense of our shared mission as Christians. Our abstinence or participation in regard to Halloween should not be derived from fear, misinformation, or pressure but rather from a sincere love of Jesus..."
Candy Corn - You know you love it.Hooray for balanced views! If you're interested, check out the whole article, Gimme Some Sugar, Baby: The Holy Hellish Hodgepodge History of Halloween. I learned some stuff. Mainly, that October 31st is also known as “Reformation Day” and commemorates the day in 1517 when Christian reformer Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses challenging the doctrine of penance, the authority of the pope, and the use of indulgences.

Happy Halloween! All Hallow's Eve! All Saints Day! Holiday! Reformation Day!

[HT: Power of Change]

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Animals are Gay

officially out of the closetThe birds and the bees may be gay, according to the world's first museum exhibition about homosexuality among animals.

With documentation of gay or lesbian behavior among giraffes, penguins, parrots, beetles, whales and dozens of other creatures, the Oslo Natural History Museum concludes human homosexuality cannot be viewed as "unnatural".

"We may have opinions on a lot of things, but one thing is clear -- homosexuality is found throughout the animal kingdom, it is not against nature," an exhibit statement said.

This is the worst argument I've ever heard for homosexuality. If you don't want to read the whole article, I'll give you my one-line synopsis: since certain bugs and animals exihibit homosexual behavior, it's natural and okay that humans do as well.

I wonder if gay folks would be offended by the kind of logic presented by this exhibition. This guy makes a good point, though:
Obviously, animals do many things (such as mate in public, lick their own genitals, use the bathroom in public, murder and even eat their own) ... and we do not base our morals and standards of conduct on what we see animals doing. However, there is something kind of humorous in the way that the press has now equated gay people with penguins, giraffes, beetles, and whales.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend

Stop. In the name of love.Sometimes, Christian perspectives on dating can be (may I be brutally honest?) downright stupid. Boundless, a webzine from Focus on the Family, actually has a pretty decent article on the subject, though - and written to dudes.
"Too often in dating relationships we think and act like consumers rather than servants. And not very good consumers at that. After all, no one would ever go down to his local car dealership, take a car out for an extended test drive, park it in his garage, drive it back and forth to work for several weeks, maybe take it on vacation, having put lots of miles on it, and then take it back to the dealer and say, 'I'm just not ready to buy a new car.'"

"But so often, that's exactly the way men treat the women they're dating. Endlessly 'test driving' the relationship, without any real regard for the spiritual and emotional wear and tear they're putting her through, all the while keeping their eyes out for a better model."
If you've been lookin' for love in all the wrong places, you should read the rest of the article.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Color Explosion

The Sony Bravia marketing gurus are at it again - and while this is not a product endorsement, you know I love me some sweet visual imagery. If you remember, these guys produced the bouncy ball-filled eyefeast that I wrote about here. The newest installment involves a highrise in Scotland and apparently several tons of non-toxic paint. Imagine a fireworks show using colored liquid instead of gunpowder, fire and sparks.

Now that you've imagined it, see it for real here.

Monday, October 16, 2006


It would be the coolest.Northern Virginia is the vanity plate capitol of the world. I kid you not, almost everyone here has one. I do not have one, but only because I haven't thought of anything clever enough to put on one. I thought HI-8-US might be pretty good, but that's already taken. Please help.

Actually, all of this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I am going on vaction this week with my wife. We are leaving our spry young'un with his grandparents and heading south to the Mexicoast. Nos vemos en una semana ... mas or menos.

In the meantime, comment on the post below, hit me up with the sweetest license plate ever, or check out the boy's site for some video shennanagins. See you in a week.

Friday, October 13, 2006

MySpace is the New Mall Hangout

Church Marketing Sucks recently posted an article promoting the use of MySpace as an effective means of church outreach. The article is actually written by Joe Suh, co-founder of MyChurch.org ("not MySpace for Christians"). Suh says,
"Community within church walls is great, but it makes for an easy excuse to avoid outreach outside the church building. The digital world is no different. 80% of church visitors come because they were personally invited by friends. Now we have a fancy term for it: social networks. And now we have an incredible way to engage our social networks: MySpace.com.

"... A year ago, we canvassed church flyers at the local shopping mall. Today we manually post bulletins and church events on Craigslist and blogs. In one year, we’ll be automatically syndicating widgets of the church event calendar and sermons onto MySpace profiles..."
Church outreach via secular vehicles is by no means a new concept and certainly is not without controversy. Of course, there are folks who speil the potential dangers of MySpace (mainly citing the inappropriateness of certain images that may be found therein). On the flipside, there are those who, even with the best intentions, throw all caution to the wind and dive headfirst into the latest means of "making the church relevant."

There are aspects of MySpace that make it far from safe for those of us prone to sin. Yet, looking at Jesus' ministry, He didn't exactly hang out with "safe" people all the time. So can MySpace be a legit means of church outreach, or is it just another way your church becomes relevant relative? Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Best. Wife. Ever.

Dearest wife, I cannot remember what life was like without you.

I do not wish to.

Thank you for being the voice of love and wisdom in my life. You show me Christ in so many ways.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"I've Had an Abortion"

Feminist rag Ms. Magazine has started a "coming out" campaign for women who have had abortions. Said campaign involves signing a petition that simply declares "I've had an abortion" - which over 5,000 women have apparently signed. According to Ms. Magazine, the purpose of the petition is to "save lives and to spare other women the pain of socially imposed guilt" in an effort to repeal "archaic and inhuman laws" and eliminate the "social stigma still wrongly attached to abortion".

A Ms. article defending the campaign touts statistics on how many women die each year from botched and unsafe abortions, blaming U.S. and international family-planning policies as major contributors to this maternal death toll.

It certainly sounds benevolent of the feminist agenda to be so concerned about the health and safety of all those unwilling mothers. Beyond the desparation that would drive one to abort their unborn child, there is certainly no question that there are deep psychological and emotional issues that come as a result of having an abortion. That is a reality that any honest woman who has had an abortion will tell you, and those women should be able to express and deal with that impact in safe and non-condemning environments. (The Christian community should be first in line to offer this kind of support, I might add.)

However, I can't help but feel like Ms. Magazine and her masters are pulling the ol' bait-and-switch, preying on the consciences of these women under the guise of protection and safety, while using them as fodder for their own political agenda. If you check out Ms.' defense of the campain, the subtle undercurrent in their message seems to be "since it's going to happen anyway, government should support and fund abortion to make it safe for women." But follow that line of thinking, and it is just as logical to push for government funding for rape, murder, or theft - since they're going to happen anyway, why not make them legal and safe?

Abortion does not merely carry a social stigma - this is far too short-sighted on the part of the feminist agenda (and purposefully so, in my opinion). It is a moral stigma, and you will not stifle your own heart and conscience simply by changing laws. At the end of the day, abortion is still the taking of a human life. Dealing with it on a social level is like putting a band-aid on cancer. Abortion and all roads leading to it are moral issues, and must be dealt with on the level of the heart.

Ms. Magazine's "I've Had an Abortion" Campaign

Thinking About Having an Abortion?
Already Had an Abortion?

Friday, October 06, 2006

More Guns? Yes, Please!

In response to the recent rash of school shootings, Wisconsin lawmaker Frank Lasee is planning to introduce legislation that would allow teachers and other school personnel to carry concealed weapons. Lasee says this option would "make our schools safe for our students to learn." His rationale? It works great in Israel and Thailand.

I'm sorry... what?! I shudder to think of some of my high school teachers carrying firearms (no offense if any of you are reading this), much less actually firing them into crowded school halls at would-be teenage gunmen. But let me see if I have this straight: Give more people more guns and less people get shot.

Now, I am not against gun ownership or the use of firearms in general. But this is the kind of backwards thinking that causes more harm than good, no matter how well-intentioned.

Two words, Mr. Lasee: BAD. IDEA.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

John Piper v/s Mark Driscoll?

Don't know if you've noticed, but a recent (and hopefully passing) buzz in Christian blogdom has centered around some remarks made by John Piper at the Desiring God Conference to Mark Driscoll. Now while some folks have gone as far to say that Piper "publically rebuked" Driscoll, etc., etc., I would hardly say that is the case. But don't take my word for it - Mark posted an email exchange between Pastor John and himself to clear the air for all the folks worked up about it. Tip o' the hat to Josh Harris for the scoop (and thanks, Josh, for the shout-out).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Desiring God 2006 Conference Audio

The audio from DGC06 - Above All Earthy Pow'rs : The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World - is already available. Glad these fellas are quick on the draw. I commend these messages to you and hope you'll take the time to listen through them.

1 | David Wells
The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World

2 | Justin Taylor, John Piper, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll
A Conversation with the Pastors

3 | Voddie Baucham
The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World

4 | Tim Keller
The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World

5 | Mark Driscoll
The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World

6 | Justin Taylor, Voddie Baucham, John Piper, D. A. Carson, David Wells
Speaker Panel

7 | D. A. Carson
The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World

8 | John Piper

Monday, October 02, 2006

DGC06: Session 6 - John Piper

Session 6 || Sunday Morning || John Piper – The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World

"Don't aim to preach only in categories of thought that can be readily understood by this generation. Aim at creating biblical categories of thought that are not present.

…Some of the most crucial and precious truths of the Scripture are counter-intuitive to the fallen human mind. They don’t fit easily into our heads. …But the Bible will not let its message be fit into the categories we bring with our fallen, finite minds. It presses us relentlessly to create new categories of thought to contain the mysteries of the gospel.

…These kinds of mind-boggling, category-shaking truths demand our best thought and our most creative labors. We must aim to speak them in a way that, by the power of God’s word and Spirit, a place for them would be created in the minds of those who hear. We must not preach only in the categories that are already present in our listeners’ fallen minds., or we will betray the gospel and conceal the glory of God.”

NOTES (things that grabbed me):

Christ's joy is in the Father Himself, not simply in the doing; this is the way Christ desires our joy to be (John 17:13).

Christ's joy in the Father is shared with us through understandable propostitions; joy must doctrinally-based if it is to glorify God (you cannot deeply love someone you do not deeply know). Piper shared ten steps in defense of this point, which are summarized below:

  1. All things depend upon God - nothing is more valuable than He
  2. God has no deficiency that would prompt Him to create us
  3. We are created to reflect His glory, to know and enjoy Him
  4. Christ is the only way this can be accomplished
  5. Joy in God is the deepest way of reflecting His glory
  6. Joy is not meant to be hidden, but shared
  7. True biblical joy is rooted in the knowledge of God
  8. Right knowledge of God is integral to worshipping Him and loving His people
  9. Therefore, embrace biblical doctrine
  10. Thus may the Church be

Pastor John's manuscript for this sermon is already available from DesiringGod.org - read it here.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

DGC06: Session 5 - D.A. Carson

Session 5 || Saturday Evening || D.A. Carson – The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World

"Neither modernism nor postmodernism is easy to define. Even experts in intellectual history disagree on their definitions.

The majority view, however, is that the fundamental issue in the move from modernism to post modernism is epistemology – i.e., how we know things or think we know things. Modernism is often pictured as pursing truth, absolutism, linear thinking, rationalism, certainty, the cerebral as opposed to the affective which in turn breeds arrogance, inflexibility, a lust to be right, the desire to control. Postmodernism, by contrast, recognizes how much of what we ‘know’ is shaped by the culture in which we live, is controlled by emotions and aesthetics and heritage, and can only be intelligently held as part of a common tradition, without overbearing claims to being true or right.

Modernism tries to find unquestioned foundations on which to build the edifice of knowledge and then proceeds with methodological rigor; postmodernism denies that such foundations exist) it is ‘anitifoundational’) and insists that we come to ‘know’ things in many ways, not a few of them lacking in rigor. Modernism is hard-edged and , in the domain of religion, focuses on truth versus error, right belief, confessionalism; postmodernism is gentle, and in the domain of religion, focuses upon relationships, love, shared tradition, integrity in discussion.”

NOTES (stuff that grabbed me):
Carson's mode of theologically thinking is way beyond me. I mean that in a good way. Carson taught through John 17, Jesus' high priestly prayer. Although the depth and bredth of his teaching far exceed my meager notes here, Carson brought out 5 petitions Christ makes:

He asks that His followers be kept safe
He asks that His followers may be one (unified)
He asks that His followers may be sanctified
He asks that His followers would experience the full measure of His joy
He asks that His followers would be with Him forever

Carson's amazing exposition of John 17 roots every request in intratrinitarian love - that is, the love the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have for each other. Christ himself is the supreme Mediator of God's love, exclusive in every way. Go get the mo' bettah notes.

DGC06: Session 4 - Mark Driscoll

Session 4 || Saturday Afternoon || Mark Driscoll – The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World

"Many Christians simply thought that postmoderns were a new kind of Christian. But, I believe postmoderns are simply not Christians. Anytime you have a hyphenated Christianity (i.e. New Age Christian, liberal Christian, etc.) then you have negated the Christianity. For postmoderns the issue is one of authority/power as they see all leaders and all texts as means by which someone exercise authority/power over another. They see all authority and power as inherently bad and prefer experience over truth, relativism over absolutes, and tolerance over judgment to varying extremes.

The result is that they will reject any singular interpretation of Scripture arguing that it is your perspective and that there are other perspectives and none are true, so we should be tolerant of all. They will reject any leadership and shun away from what they call “organized religion” and prefer to have their “personal relationship and experiences with God.” …This is because we are dealing with common sins that have simply now been given a philosophical name:

1.) Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we want to be God and decide right and wrong and play with what God says rather than obey it.

2.) Like Romans 1:18, they suppress the truth they don’t like because they want to sin and live their life as they please; so it is never a philosophical hang-up, but a hard heart that is truly the issue.

3.) They think being spiritual is good enough, but James says even demons believe in God, so being spiritual is never enough.

4.) They will use the name Jesus like the cults do, which is confusing, but it is a different gospel and a different Jesus ala 2 Corinthians 11:4.

...They use God and His people to play with the truth and live as they please."

NOTES (stuff that grabbed me):
The main issue separating Reformed from Emergent perspectives is one of Christology (that is, what you believe not merely concerning the hisorical facts about Jesus, but His very nature and being). The incarnation of Jesus is especially important within Emergent circles, stressing the humanity of Jesus and his immenence as a man. Reformed circles stress the divinity of Jesus, that He is God. What we need is not an over-emphasis on either side, but a balance of Christ's immenence (example, experience) and His divinity (authority).

Driscoll stressed 9 non-negotiables. Christian people everywhere should contend for these truths:
  • Contend for Scripture as an authoritive metanarrative (reaching beyond the immediate and historical, providing the framework for our lives and expereinces).
  • Contend for the sovereignty of God (that he not only has the power and the right to govern all things, but that He does govern all things) - must be defended against Open Theism.
  • Contend for the virin birth of Jesus (this sounded almost random at first, but Driscoll referenced a question posed in Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis - basically asking would it really be so bad if we found out if Mary was not a virgin in Jesus' conception. Bell does not believe this is the case, but simply poses the question, implying that even if you take a few bricks out a theological wall, the wall still stands - a line of reasoning typical in postmodern Emergent circles. Discoll's response was less than flattering of Bell's musings. He emphasized that were this the case, it would not just be "removing a single brick" - it would undermine OT prophesies concerning Christ, etc., thereby undermining the very Word of God. He also emphasized the warnings of Scripture regarding adding to or taking from the Word of God - this does matter; God did that for a reason. Driscoll concluded, "Don't mess with Jesus' mother. I doubt He'd take it kindly.")
  • Contend against Pelagianism (Briefly, Pelagianism is the assertion that there is no original sin. Man has the capacity to sin, but it is not inheirent in his nature. This is clearly contrary to Scripture's emphasis that we are born dead in our sins.)
  • Contend for the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (maintains that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God placed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and He bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied the wrath, the justice and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.)
  • Contend for the exlusivity of Jesus (there is no other means to salvation; nothing may be combined to or subtracted from Him.)
  • Contend for biblical male/female gender roles
  • Contend for the doctrine of Hell (Hell does exist, and you do want to be saved from going there. Interestingly, Driscoll pointed out that secular marketing does this far better than the church does - presenting your "personal hell" as allergies, backache, etc., then offering you a "savior" to get out of it.)
  • Contend for the Kingdom over the culture (we tend to look at the Kingdom of God as something that is coming, which it is; but Scripture also presents the Kingdom as being present. We live in the tension of the "already" and the "not yet" but must keep a balance. To simply focus on culture while forgetting that the Kingdom of God is both present and coming is to have too small an aim.)
Mark also emphasized the importance of contextualization - relaying an unchanged, unobscured Gospel in a context that is relevant and appropriate to different people groups. Read more here.

DGC06: Session 3 - Tim Keller

Session || Saturday Morning || Tim Keller – The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World

“We never get beyond the gospel in our Christian life to something more advanced. The gospel is not the first step in a stairway of truths… The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience, but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col. 1-6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom. 1:16-17). …The key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual rediscovery of the gospel.”

NOTES (stuff that grabbed me):
This is the first time in Christian history the Church has had to evangelize to an inoculated culture (exposed to just enough Christianity to be familiar, but not deep). Our society is ex-Christian; Christianity has become a memory.

The gospel must recapture us and we must recapture the gospel if evangelism is to thrive in postmodernity.

The rest of my notes don’t really do this teaching justice. You should definitely check out the extended version.