"We degrade Providence too much by attributing our ideas to it out of annoyance at being unable to understand it."

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Keep Politics Out of the Church

. . . say the clergy gathered for political protest at a church.

Nice touch, one that deserves some applause. You can't just stumble into hypocrisy like that.

It doesn't stop there.

The defilement of a house of worship that has their panties all in a wad is Gov. Rick Perry signing a bill into law-- not in a church sanctuary, prayer garden, choir loft, baptismal font, or even the foyer. It was in the holiest of holies: the gym.

And not even a Family Life Center-type gym that's part of the church, but rather the church school's gym.

This plea for tolerance and nonjudgmentalism brought to you by the fair-minded and non-partisan Texas Faith Network, which is a "project" of the Texas Freedom Network, founded by the daughter of former Gov. Ann Richards (Democrat) of Texas, who has now moved on to bigger & better things at Planned Parenthood.

How Do You Do?

As one who teaches pastors and those considering ministry, I often have students ask, “What is the best model of doing church?” They go on to inquire about the emerging church model, the emergent church, and/or the cell church. “What is G12?” they say, or “Is the seeker model still viable?”

Such statements flow from the presumption that the question of how to do church is the most important consideration of all.

Church growth conferences tend to reinforce this. They showcase mega-churches that have experienced skyrocketing growth. They offer workshops on ways to do music, methods of small group ministry, techniques of teaching, processes for assimilating new members, etc. At the risk of being labeled someone against large churches and the value of numeric growth (which I am not) and in contrast to the focus of such conferences, my study of and experience in mega-churches leads me to the conclusion that they have not grown primarily as a result of the way they do church. I believe most large churches (most certainly all the ones I know personally) have “grown” primarily as a result of the person, persona and/or personality of the pastor- but that’s another discussion for another day.

In ministry, growth almost unequivocally means more in numbers. In fact, we really don’t have to clarify what we mean when we say the word growth. It’s now assumed to mean numeric increase. Thus, in a wholesale way we’ve come to measure success very much like the world. The conclusion is that because a church has grown numerically it is effective at reaching lost people- which of course may or may not be true. Also, just because a church has many people and programs does not mean that it is making disciples. Activity does not equal productivity and growing good church attendees does not necessarily equate to developing authentic disciples of Jesus. In fact, some might argue that in the Western world these are polar opposites.

So if the primary goal is gaining more people who attend church (and let’s face it- that is the goal for most pastors) then how to get them there would logically be front and center. But that focus misses the most important consideration of all and I believe pastors dismiss this more critical matter way too quickly. Instead of how, the first consideration should be why... Why are we doing this thing called church?

When was the last time you went to a conference where there was a workshop on that?

More Movie Stuff

I missed the Spider-Man 3 teaser-trailer before Superman Returns. It must have run first, because while I arrived a bit late, I did catch 3 or 4 other trailers before the movie began, including a long one for M. Night Shyamalan's newest, The Lady in the Water. I hadn't realized that one was going to be another scary movie; based on early info, I was expecting a more bizarro/whimsical-type "dark" movie, a la Tim Burton or something. I just hope it is more Signs or Sixth Sense than The Village.

I haven't been to the theater this year as much I'd like. But based on what I've seen, I think the two best films are Curious George and Cars. (I have children, you see.)

Some movies I wanted to see but didn't: Poseidon, Mission: Impossible 3, and Nacho Libre. All got mixed reviews. If you've seen any of them, let me know what you thought.
I am really looking forward to Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. I bought Anchorman on DVD last year, but it comes on HBO, like, every six hours now. I watch bits and pieces every time I catch it on, and every single time I laugh my behonkus off.

Brief thoughts on movies I've seen recently:

Munich -- Yeah, I finally got around to watching it. I think that is the longest I ever kept a NetFlix disc. Not bad. Really good, actually, although I'm not sure it merited a Best Picture nomination. It certainly didn't make me regret not having seen it before I made my top ten of last year.

Robot Chicken -- Also via NetFlix, I watched the first season of this Comedy Central show co-created by Seth Green, which uses dolls and action figures in stop-motion animated comedy sketches. The idea sounded cool to me. The execution is spotty. Some bits are hilarious -- superhero "Real World" comes to mind, as well as Skeletor, Lex Luthor, and Cobra Commander carpooling -- but more than a few merit little more than a smile. Each episode is only 10 minutes long, though, so watching the entire season went by very quickly.

16 Blocks -- Now, see, I actually liked this movie better than Munich. It had all of the action and drama and none of the heavy-handed, artistic pretense. It's not going to win any awards, but it's Bruce Willis doing what he does best (playing a washed up and morally conflicted cop). The acting was great, the tension was genuine, and it had a good message.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang -- This is the movie that would have made me alter my top ten. I can't believe I missed this in the theater, especially since it got near unanimous positive reviews. Robert Downey Jr. plays a petty thief mistaken for an actor mistaken for a detective, and Val Kilmer plays a detective moonlighting as a movie consultant in this gritty, witty murder mystery from the original writer of the Lethal Weapon series. The writing is fantastic, and the acting is terrific. And the story is as pulpy and as engaging as the noirish dime novels and mystery movies that inspired it.

I Love Your Work -- This one is a weird bit of postmodern cinema. Written and directed by indie actor Adam Goldberg, it stars his buddy Giovanni Ribisi as a famous actor married to a famous model-actress. The actor's world of glitz and glamor becomes suffocating as his irritation and paranoia increase. He thinks he's being stalked, first by another Goldberg buddy, "My Name is Earl"'s Jason Lee, and then by ex-"Dawson Creek"er, Joshua Jackson. Then there's the whole bit about Ribisi's character not really existing but rather being Nicky Katt (yet another friend o' Goldberg) inside a movie that may nor may not be reality (which would make Ribisi's character a character in a movie . . . or something), and the whole thing with the girl who keeps turning into Christina Ricci. Vince Vaughn and Elvis Costello play themselves. I think. The thing about the actor stalked by an adoring fan becoming an adoring fan and veritable stalker of a "regular" couple is an interesting twist.
It's weird. Not un-entertaining. Very compelling, but very confusing.

Jarhead -- I liked this one. I know some folks said it was inaccurate and/or "liberal." But I thought it was a good movie.

Click -- Saw this with the wife last week. It's not a great movie by any stretch, but it did what I expected, which was entertain. I think Adam Sandler's last good movie was The Wedding Singer, and even though he's made a few lousy turfburgers since then (Little Nicky, The Longest Yard, The Waterboy, etc.) I still give him a chance. This one continues his trend of toning down the gross-out cinematic non sequiturs (although the dog's love affair with the plush duck was pushing it) while increasing the sentimentality. I think Sandler realizes his original fanbase is older now, mostly married with kids. This is a frequently amusing, occasionally hilarious modern take on It's a Wonderful Life. Like I said, not a great movie, but a pleasant diversion if you're in the mood.

Therapy That is Not Therapeutic

I have thought off and on about going into Christian counseling. The primary thing holding me back is the schooling (read: the money), especially since I'd still like to attend seminary someday. But another reason I'd be reluctant to enter the counseling "business" is the sheer amount of nutjobs, nitwits, and insensitive louts, all with parchment from diploma mills hanging on their walls, overpopulating the landscape. Who wants to be a part of professional therapy run amok?

Here's an excerpt about a blogger's experience with bad therapists from a post on Suburban Bliss (full post contains adult language):

I met a therapist last weekend and before I say this, let me explain the bad therapists I've had in the past.

There was the one who said, "I'm glad you stopped breastfeeding. I've always thought breastfeeding was a selfish choice." [Since the husband can't feed the baby.]

There was another who said, "What do you do?"
"I stay at home with my kids."
"How long have you been unemployed?"
"I've been at home with my kids for the last 4 years."
"Okay, so you've been unemployed for 4 years."



"Uh....I guess so......?"

This therapist from last weekend was almost as bad as those ones. She didn't say unsupportive things about breastfeeding and she didn't consider being a stay at home mother 'Glorified Unemployment'. However, she did answer the phone three times and then answered a knock at the door.

It went like this:
Me: "Sob sob sob...I'm pouring out what I think the problem is.....Sob sob sob...."

Phone: "Ring Ring Ring"

Her: "Gee. I'm so sorry...I have to get this."

Me: "..."

Repeat two more times, plus a door knock.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better. And if not better, at least funnier.

All I can say is wow. She does make it funny (and good for her!), but it also makes me grieve.

I know that a lot of brothers and sisters these days are seeking out sit-down help. I think that's a very good thing.
But one word of advice: Not that the science and discipline of sound psychology is a bad thing, or that spiritualizing all problems and related solutions is always called for, but if your Christian or pastoral counselor goes several to many sessions without mentioning God or Jesus or Scripture or sin or repentance or forgiveness or grace, it's time to find a new counselor.

Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld Has Come Down

From on high, the Supreme Court has, after a two week retreat with the Dalai Lama, a series of entrail readings, a special screening of Fahrenheit 9/11, and a telephone consultation with the Prime Minister of France, announced the true moral law of the universe regarding the US detainment of murderous Al Qaeda thugs, er, crazy radical Islamofascists, er, Un-uniformed Persons of Dissent. The case is Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld.

I haven't had a chance to wade through the nearly 200 pages of opinions, so I haven't formed much of an opinion on this. From the git-go, my hunch has been that it's a perfectly right thing to do to kill people who are trying to kill you, but not such a right thing to hold them forever without proceeding to a trial. But maybe not a horrible thing, given that, last time I checked, the war is still on.

That said, anytime I see, as here, Justice Stevens writing the majority opinion, I cringe. The way it works is that the Chief Justice has the prerogative to write or assign the writing of opinions when he is in the majority, and the most senior Associate Justice has that prerogative when he is. Here, Chief Justice Roberts had to recuse himself because he sat on the lower appellate court that originally heard this case, so there were only 8 acting Justices (which makes the decision to appoint Roberts all the more interesting, given that Bush & Co. had to know how close this would be, and that Roberts would have to recuse himself). Justice Stevens, in the majority, decided he would write the decision rather than one of the other, perhaps less polarizing, member of the Court.

In summary, that means that Stevens wanted to write this opinion so he could, as the crusty and despised old liberal on the Court, whose death is awaited eagerly by every registered Republican, stick it up the nose of Bush, Rumsfeld, & Co. in perhaps the most politically charged case on which he will sit in the majority before he departs from the Court.


Ten years ago today I married the love of my life. What a blessing and a medium of God's grace Becky has been to me.

I can't imagine doing life with anyone else. Becky is so great, so incredible, so beautiful, she's in a class of her own. She always has been, still is, and always will be all that I could ever want or need. Every day I am only awed by her more.

Happy tenth anniversary, baby.

Mild Blue Yawner

My review of Superman Returns is up at Cinema Veritas.

A summation: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Thoughts Inspired by the Public Pool

Now that summer is in full swing, my fam has been visiting our city pool quite frequently. As I have found it difficult to read a book while the girls avoid drowning, I have had lots of time to think.

Some of you people are very proud of your bodies.
And less than a third of you have reason to be.

I remember that Saturday Night Live commerical parody about the mom with the lower back tattoo. I thought it was funny, but I didn't think then that it was funny because it was true. Now I see the origin. I can't believe how many 30-40 year old mom-types have these stupid barbed-wired-looking designs on their lower backs. It's so, so dumb. (No offense if you have one. ;-)

I saw one dude with a lower back tattoo. What a chick.

There's always the one big boy in the kiddie pool terrorizing all the little ones. And his mom (who usually looks like his grandmother) acts like she doesn't see. I've had to intervene several times when punks in training thought it was funny to make Grace cry by splashing copious amounts of water in her eyes.

Today the requisite punk looked the type. He was chubby, with a buzz cut and missing a front tooth or two. He could've been Larry the Cable Guy's mini-me.

Also today some middle aged guy came alone and reclined by the kiddie pool. Super creepy.
I mean, chances are he's completely harmless, but an overprotective Dada with an active imagination had his Freak Detector on. Reminded me of the perv in Tom Perotta's Little Children. He hung out at the family pool too.

Grace scared the pee out of me today. I was drying and dressing Macy to leave and in a matter of seconds, Grace had wandered off. I couldn't see her anywhere, and the place was packed with, like, a bazillion people. I was freaking out. I told Macy to sit down and stay put and then I jogged around, calling Grace's name. I tried to remember what she was wearing, but I was so scared it was hard to concentrate. To make matters worse, Perv Man was nowhere to be seen either.
I finally found her trying to get a drink from the water fountain. I was shaking, I was so scared. I think that's the most scared I've ever been.

Anyhoo, the pool can be fun sometimes.

A DVD of a Monkey

International spy and lead singer of Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution.

Yes, dear Pete, it's really true. Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp (The Complete Series!) is out on DVD.

And there was much rejoicing.

Tipping Points

Apparently the most recent Southern Baptist Convention didn't leave a great impression on the local service industry.

I'd hesitate to suggest this one waitress' experience is representative of all that went on between attendees and the locals they interacted with.
I guess for the same reasons why, when I worked in a Christian bookstore, the absolute worst -- rude, egocentric, selfish, and demeaning -- customers to deal with were pastors.

With Friends Like Ozzie . . .

Some of you may know that hotheaded White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen got in trouble recently over calling a reporter a "fag."

All I'm going to say about that is, that's a whole 'nother post. What I find noteworthy is Ozzie's defense. You see, Ozzie's just misunderstood. He's not a bigot. And he's got the gay-friendly credentials to prove it:

Guillen also told Couch that he has gay friends, attends WNBA games, went to a Madonna concert and plans to go to the Gay Games in Chicago.

Attends WNBA games? Are you kidding me? For those who may not know, the WNBA is the womens' pro basketball league, and is notorious for its large lesbian fan base. But they've tried to broaden their appeal to the mainstream, family audience. Their marketing team has to love the fact that the WNBA is now considered so generically homosexual that being a fan is now apparently a defense to the charge of "homophobia."

He's No "Scalito"

Today in United States vs. Gonzalez-Lopez, Alito dissented from a majority opinion written by Justice Scalia, which ordered a new trial where the trial court had improperly prevented the defendant from using an attorney of his choice. HT: Volokh.

A (Truly) Modest Proposal on the Estate Tax

Published in the NYT by Cafe Hayek contributor Donald Boudreaux:

To the Editor:

Paul Krugman admires the fiscal principles of those "Americans from an earlier era" who instituted the modern estate tax.

Although my admiration is less, I'm willing to keep the estate tax if we return to the original personal-income tax policies of those "progressive" leaders in 1913: a tax-rate structure whose lowest rate was 1 percent and whose maximum rate of 7 percent kicked in only when annual incomes reached $7.7 million (in 2006 dollars).

Donald J. Boudreaux
Fairfax, Va., June 9, 2006
The writer is chairman of the economics department at George Mason University.

Add this to the list of reasonable but politically absurd proposals on taxation that have piled up over the last few years. As if we needed any more evidence that our tax structure has long departed from the general distaste for taxation that characterized our founders.

Boudreaux's letter predictably attracted its share of condescending hatemailers, one of whom he ably dissects in the linked post on the subject of this letter demonstrating that he teaches selfishness to his students.

GospelDrivenLife on "Relevance or Faithfulness"

If you're looking for wisdom, balance, and grace in the God-Blogosphere, I recommend GospelDrivenLife. In his latest post on Relevance or Faithfulness Mark provides some needed words to break down the false dichotomies we often set up:

As you can tell by now -- I don't buy the distinction. We are called to both: to be faithful and to earnestly contend for the faith -- we do that best by zealously pursuing the advance of the Gospel to the lost -- not by hermetically sealing the Gospel in our Christian ghettos.

* * *

I do not think relevance is all about events -- about music style or candles or clothing -- it is not about being "up-to-date" in form -- it is about the people I am seeking to reach. I can best pursue relevance, not by going to the movies, but by knowing and loving unbelieving people -- getting into their heads -- finding bridges for the Gospel where I can. I need to think and act locally -- where I am. I need to do the hard work of knowing my context and the people in it. I need to ask questions.

A church will be relevant when its members are in relationship with lost people -- and seek to know them. Love is relevant. The power of life change is relevant. Unbelieving people know when they run into sincere care -- when they see humble orthodoxy. The seeker movement and the emergent movement seems to miss the relevance of a Gospel-changed life and Gospel love and Gospel joy. I have known unbelievers to be drawn to the Gospel by watching Christian parents train their children! They see what is different. I have seen guests in one of our churches quite taken by the sincere joy and passionate worship of people!

I do not envision a church where a few professionals figure out how to be relevant stylistically -- I envision a church where the members know the unbelievers and are seeking to communicate with them in word and deed. Relevance is not cheap. One of the marks of a relevant church will be the absence of references to "them" -- "Pastor, I hear unbelievers do not like organ music -- maybe we should not have it." Instead, it will be references to "friends" --"Pastor, I have a friend who is not a believer and visited the church -- they came away confused by our offering. I asked them what bothered them and they said they understood money was necessary -- but wanted to know WHY we received it that way. Can you explain it next time?" There is a world of difference between those two statements.
Read the whole thing, plus his previous posts in the series. Great stuff!

Relevance or Faithfulness, 1

Relevance or Faithfulness, 2

Relevance or Faithfulness, 3

Relevance or Faithfulness, 4

Summer Reading

Over at National Review Online, various contributors have posted their summer reading lists, with some commentary. It's inspired me to check out a few of the books.

There's The Suburban Christian: Finding Spiritual Vitality in the Land of Plenty . A frequent theme these days is how suburbanization has, by design, hindered the development of strong communal bonds, in the church as much as anywhere else. You will see various writers calling Christians back into the inner city or into rural areas, convinced that the best prospects for Christians are anywhere but the suburbs. I can see the isolation by design in suburbia, and therefore some of those arguments resonate with me, but I am interested to see how this author interacts with those who are critical of suburbia.

South Park Conservatives may be worth a look, although I wonder if it might be more entertaining and about as informative to just watch South Park. Intriguing, but out of whack with my blue jeans and boots lifestyle, is The Suit : A Machiavellian Approach to Men's Style.

I generally avoid bringing home books with, for example, a picture of a blonde wearing a low cut black dress. I also avoid mass market diatribes. So I wasn't going to read Ann Coulter's Godless: The Church of Liberalism. The reason given by Bill Crawford,that liberals don't want me to, I don't find terribly persuasive. But elsewhere, Doug Wilson has given me a fairly convincing reason:

. . . the last four chapters of this book were a full-throated assault on Darwinism, and a very able presentation of the central ideas of Intelligent Design. Why is this significant? Given the sales of this book, and the wide readership that Coulter has, this is a truly significant anti-Darwin publishing coup. The Darwiniacs have an effective lock-out established for all "approved" communications (which they defend ferociously), and the creationist literature, while robust and voluminous, is largely limited to a creationist subculture. Coulter has seen to it that many of the basic (unanswerable) arguments for Intelligent Design will be read by a lot of people who would not otherwise see them. Look for waves on this one. The fracas over the Jersey Girls was just a distraction.

One favorite line was this: Taking on microevolution, Coulter said that calling variation within species "microevolution" was like the Flat Earth Society pointing to the Sahara as a model of a "micro-flat earth."

All the controversy has attracted me to Mark Driscoll's new book. Continuing in the missionary mode, I ran across Leslie Newbigin's The Open Secret, which I started last night. And I've also been reading Scalia Dissents, an edited collection of Justice Scalia's opinions on various topics. If you want to go beyond the very basic understanding that he's a stalwart on the conservative "bloc" on the Supreme Court, this book will help you understand why he will stray so often from ideologically predetermined outcomes, and why his opinions garner so much attention and respect, even from his opponents; witness the comment from the half-cocked (on a good day) Leiter Reports: Scalia is a "bright ideologue, as opposed to a dull-witted one" (i.e., Clarence Thomas).

Finally, Corante has a reading list for aspiring knowledge workers. Some of the books were familiar; others I'd never heard of, and probably wouldn't have without this list. I hope to take a stab at a few of those sometime soon.

Please feel free to break out your summer reading list in the comments.

French press again slanders Lance Armstrong

Or at least that's what the headline should have read. If you think this should have been news at all.

Instead, we get French Paper: Armstrong Admitted Doping.

Where you will read that, in a lawsuit, LAST YEAR, it was alleged by a disgruntled former teammate of Armstrong, and his wife, that Armstrong told doctors that he used performance enhancing drugs. And, incidentally, that such mention is nowhere in the medical records, nor for that matter is it in the memory of anyone else in the room at the time, including the doctors.

I don't fault the French for being the French. It does bother me that the AP is so hungry for attention that it will stoop to being the lackey for the French press, just to get the ratings that automatically go with the subject regardless of whether the article constitutes news.

Or maybe "news" has been redefined. I pine for the days where the news was about things that happened recently. Or things that were true. Or about actual events, instead of the fact that something was being reported as news by someone else. When we were not promised Filet Mignon in the headline and given Salisbury Steak in the article.

What the world needs now . . .

is "more people like me," says Stephon Marbury, point guard for the New York Knicks.

Are You Lonely?

We are oh so connected technologically. The internet, IM, Myspace, blogs, email, cellphones. You name it. But loneliness continues for so many.

Does this describe you? You are important. I regret that this is so impersonal...and I don't know you or your situation, nevertheless, I'd still love for you to pull up a chair, and listen to a few friendly suggestions, if you don't mind.

First, talk to someone face to face. (A real live, physical person.) Admit to them that you are lonely. This is the first step. Keeping our pain to ourselves leads us to assume that we are the only ones, and inevitably we have to deal with that pain alone because no one else knows about it. The only cure is to tell someone.

Billy Graham offers this advice. “I am never lonely when I am praying, for this brings me into companionship with the greatest friend of all – Jesus Christ. He said, ‘I call you not servants, but friends’ (see John 15:15). Then, I am never lonely when I am reading the Bible. I read it every day – whole chapters of it. Nothing dissolves loneliness like a session with God’s word.”

Also seek out a Bible-teaching church and make some friends there. Make an effort to get involved. Don’t sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you. Deep relationships do not materialize overnight. Meaningful friendship takes time. The more you give, the more you make an effort, the more you will receive. Be someone who looks out for the needs of others, and spend time with other unselfish people. “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends…” (Proverbs 18:1).

What about your family? Often people who are lonely have broken or strained relationships with their own family. Call home! If necessary, offer and ask for forgiveness. Make a deliberate effort to keep in touch. No one can love you like family.

Also keep in mind, that others are lonely too. You are not the only one, though it may feel like it. Even people who are smiling on the outside, may be crying on the inside. (You know that well, don't you?) Seek out other people and befriend them. But realize that deep, meaningful relationships are only possible with a few. Just knowing a lot of people is not the kind of friendship that will provide the companionship and stability that you need. “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Imagine that you had an emergency at two in the morning. Who would you call? That’s your true friend. Call that person now. Tell them you just want to spend some time together.

In the meantime, please spend some time contemplating the following Scriptures.

“I waited patently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).

Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

And Jesus also has this word for you:

“Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

(If you like, feel free to leave us a message under comments or shoot me an email at biblespeakstoday@ yahoo.com)

Ex-believer Thinks He's The Next Michael Moore

Check out this video clip.

It's sad, really. The filmmaker, Brian Flemming, interviews the superintendent of the Christian School he attended. I think the superintendent, Dr. Ronald Sipus, handled it quite well considering... What do you think?

It's from a movie called "The God Who Wasn't There."

From the press release:

Bowling for Columbine did it to the gun culture.

Super Size Me did it to fast food.

Now The God Who Wasn't There does it to religion.

Holding modern Christianity up to a bright spotlight, this bold new film demands answers to the questions few dare to ask. Your guide through the world of Christendom is former fundamentalist Brian Flemming , who unflinchingly examines believers and the origins of their beliefs. He gets help from such luminaries as esteemed folklorist Alan Dundes ( Holy Writ as Oral Lit ), Jesus Seminar fellow Robert M. Price ( Deconstructing Jesus ) and neuroscientist Sam Harris ( The End of Faith ).

Along with Brian, you will discover:

• The early founders of Christianity seem wholly unaware of the idea of a human Jesus

• The Jesus passed down to us in the gospels bears a striking resemblance to other ancient heros and the figureheads of pagan savior cults

• Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion

• Christianity is as obsessed with blood and violence now as it was in the 1 st century

• Fundamentalism is as strong today as it ever has been, with an alarming 44% of Americans believing Jesus will return to Earth within the next 50 years

• And God simply isn’t there

Brian Flemming also explores his own experiences within fundamentalist Christianity at a cult-like school that taught him how how and what to believe. Ultimately, he confronts the man in charge of educating the school’s 1800 students, and this superintendent’s inability to justify what he teaches is revealing and distressing.

Dazzling motion graphics and a sweeping soundtrack help tell this tale of one person’s journey from the darkness of first-century thinking to the enlightenment of reason.

Hold on to your faith. It’s in for a bumpy ride.

Many on the web have chosen to respond to the film in depth. I don't necessarily want to bring more attention to his film, but I must admit that I was fascinated by the interview, (which serves as the conclusion of the 1 hour "documentary"). We see that Flemming has a personal axe to grind, and in my opinion, uses this film to attack his own personal "demons".

A film critic who writes for Christianity Today, interviewed Flemming for the magazine, and was much kinder to Flemming than Flemming was to Sipus.

For those of you who want to read responses to Flemmings arguments that there is no evidence for a historical Jesus go here and here.

There are more clips here.

Me? I am just reminded that as we teach children in the faith, we must be careful stewards. They do grow up.

The Last Charge of R.L. Dabney

R.L. Dabney was a farmer, pastor, theologian (author of Lectures on Systematic Theology), university professor (the University of Texas), and seminary founder (Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary), and the chief of staff to Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Near the end of his amazing life, he wrote a charge to his children and grandchildren I found quoted in this lecture:

I desire before I leave this world that my best legacy to my family, my serious solemn advice: to make choice of God for their God. He has been my father’s God, and the God of your mother’s predecessors.

I solemnly charge you to make it your first care to seek after peace with God, and being reconciled, to make it your study to please God in all things.

Wait diligently upon the means of grace, attending the worship of God in His house. Study the word, after secret prayer, especially family and the public ordinances. Beware of the mere form of these duties, but cry to the Lord for communion with Him, so that you may worship Him in spirit and truth.

Follow God fully, without turning aside. I have often devoted all of you to God, and there is nothing I have so much at heart as this, that you may indeed be the Lord’s. And if you turn aside from this way, I will have this as a witness against you in the day of the Lord.

Be good to your mother, as you would have God’s blessing. She will need your comfort.

Beware of religion that is most taken up with public matters. The sum of the gospel is Christ crucified.

I commit my body to the dust, hoping and expecting the Spirit will in due time quicken my mortal body. My spirit I commit to my Lord Jesus Christ. To him I have entrusted it long ago.

Now, my dear boys, this is my last legacy, that we all meet where there is no more death, sorrow, nor sin.

Your devoted father,

R.L. Dabney

“Be kindly affectionate, one to another.”

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

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